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COE Computer Requirements and Recommendations

All entering College of Engineering students will be required to have a laptop computer for classroom use. Upperclass and graduate students will need laptops for those courses that use College software in classrooms not equipped with desktop computers.

College of Engineering provides access to Engineering software through the COE Virtual Lab (VLAB) environment.   A laptop that meets the minimum specifications listed below is sufficient for VLAB access.  Processing power, memory, and graphics rendering are handled on our servers for VLAB sessions, so your laptop is used only as a terminal.

View information on the VLab and the Computer Center

To run software locally on your own computer (without reliance on internet access), it is important that it meet or exceed the recommended specifications below.

Minimum Laptop Requirements

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse (For those working with SolidWorks)
  • Wireless network card which supports the 802.11ac or better network protocols
  • 13″ screen or larger recommended

Recommended laptop specifications (beyond requirements above)

  • Processor & Integrated Graphics
  • Intel® Core™ i7 8000 series or higher (8th generation or higher)
  • RAM – 16GB (2x8GB) 2133MHz DDR4 Memory or higher
  • Internal Storage – 256GB Solid State Drive or (128GB SSD + 512GB HDD)
  • Wireless – Intel® Dual-Band Wireless-AC
  • Support – 3-year warranty with Service Agreement & 3 years Accidental Damage
  • Operating System:  Windows 10 (see more on operating systems below)

As a Northeastern student, you have access to special education discounts for new Apple and Dell computers. Log onto myNortheastern, select the Self-Service tab, and click the links located under “Tech Marketplace.” These computers receive full on-campus technical support and offer greater savings than the standard Apple and Dell education discounts (including back-to-school promotions over the summer.)

Operating System

Windows 10? Mac OS? Linux? This is a matter of personal preference. The vast majority of computers in our Engineering computer classrooms and open laboratories run Windows. However, Mac owners can seamlessly transfer files between systems. A few engineering applications run natively only on Windows; Mac users can use our Windows labs or virtual lab for those programs.

Alternatively, Mac users can purchase a Windows license and install it as a secondary operating system for access to these packages. Secondary operating systems can be made with a virtual machine application like VMware Fusion or Parallels (both available free through the MyNortheastern portal), or with Apple’s BootCamp software (comes packaged with OS X).


The major software packages used during the first year in COE are Microsoft Office, AutoCAD, MATLAB, and SolidWorks; all of these are available in our computer classrooms and other lab areas. If you wish to install these software packages on your own laptop, visit for more information.

Some software is available free or at a discount through the myNortheastern portal (see Software Downloads and Tech Marketplace under the Services & Links tab).

Engineering students have access to free software through Microsoft Dreamspark Premium and other vendor programs. See for more information.


The Mathematics Department recommends that student have a graphing calculator as an example models TI-83 – TI-86 from Texas Instruments. Certain calculators may not be used in some cases, so it is always best to check with a course instructor.

Engineering Computer Center

For the VLAB, IT Help and other information, visit

COE Computer Center