Resources for Students

Working Remotely

Engterm - Remote Desktop Connection - allows you to access many Nexus/Chorus applications from your laptop or home computer.

Resouces from around the web

1. Free / alternatively licensed software (students can get their own version/license at home)

2. Free / time-sensitive resources (some useful training and resources)

A few links about Zoom at Canadian Universities:

Working On Campus

Pocketnexus - A Single Sign-on Solution

Surveyor: A Survey and Student Testing Tool

Laptop Recommendations for Engineering Students

Specific sites exist with recommendations for

  •  Architecture,
  • Architectural Engineering
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering.

See Computer Hardware/Software for Students in Architectural Engineering  

In the remaining departments, laptops are not required but are very useful.  There are about 1,000 network-attached student-accessible workstations in Engineering with a large number of Engineering applications, your laptop would supplement these resources. 

Most Engineering departments primarily use Windows software, except where noted above. However, many students successfully use Linux and Macintosh OSes, since freely available virtualisation allow you to run Windows and Linux software on all three platforms when needed. As more software vendors move their software to the cloud, the operating system and computing power of your computing device become less important.

You will probably want a laptop computer that will serve you for 3-5 years. Remember, many devices sold today are sealed and cannot be field-upgraded after the sale, this is particularly true of the RAM which is often soldered onto the system board.

A new laptop should be:

  1. Light enough to carry regularly - ultrabooks are lighter than others and are your best purchase. Avoid huge displays because they are hard/heavy to carry - 13 to 15-inch displays are more convenient to carry.  Internal CD/DVD drives add bulk, weight and moving parts that can break and are rarely used by UW students, so if you want a CD/DVD drive, you might want to consider an external unit and keep it at your UW home. Ethernet ports are not usually needed, we have extensive wireless coverage and few accessible Ethernet ports. Many ultrabooks no longer have Ethernet ports, but USB Ethernet is a simple addition if you later find you need one.
  2. Have a hinge that is going to last for years - avoid plastic cases.
  3. With a battery life that will last a long time.  Several brands have a 10 to 12-hour battery life now. You will spend long hours at university, and you may want to carry a charger around with you, but there are not a lot of places to plug in.
  4. A minimum of 8GB of RAM will suffice for existing laptops.  If you are purchasing new, then we recommend 16GB RAM - as this will become necessary within the lifetime of a laptop.
  5. For storage, we recommended an SSD drive with at least 240 GB. Note that you will have 5 TB of OneDrive space in the cloud from your Microsoft 365 account, but remember that this requires a connection to a network.
  6. Recommended OS: Latest supported version (eg. Windows 10). Do not run older versions because they are vulnerable to known attacks.
  7. Extended warranties are often a good idea on laptops. Typically they offer 3 or 4 years of device replacement. Note: that does not include data recovery!
  8. Many companies offer significantly discounted hardware prices when you have a valid student number at a university. Inquire about educational discounts and requirements when purchasing.
  9. A great deal of useful software is available for students at greatly discounted prices through (sometimes 95% or 100% off) and other sites recommended by UWaterloo.
  10. You have 5 TB of OneDrive space in the cloud from your Microsoft 365 account. Google also offers free space. Use cloud storage and/or USB sticks or other means to regularly back up your important data. A stolen, lost, hacked or damaged computer is a devastating loss and would impact your marks if you miss deadlines.
  11. Windows 10 and MacOS natively allow you to encrypt your drive and yet operate at full speed.  Then if your device is stolen, your personal information is less likely to be recovered by thieves.  You only need to use a password you will not forget - or else you will also be shut out of your data.

Note: your computer does not need to be a high-power device because we have about 1,000 student-accessible desktop/lab computers in Engineering, usually with large monitors, for specialized Engineering applications you cannot hope to afford.

You will use your laptop mostly for word processing, spreadsheets, Web work, presentations and submitting assignments.

At UW you will have access to some FREE or low-cost software, including free licenses for Microsoft Office, so you do not need to buy these packages in advance.

We have almost 100% WiFi coverage in all academic buildings.  A laptop with a dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-fi adapter is recommended.