Resources for Students

Pocketnexus - A Single Sign-on Solution

Surveyor: A Survey and Student Testing Tool

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

Laptop Recommendations for Engineering Students

Specific sites exist with recommendations for
  - Architecture,
  - Architectural Engineering
  - Civil and Environmental Engineering.
See https://uwaterloo.ca/architectural-engineering/sites/ca.architectural-engineering/files/uploads/files/ae-laptop-specs-student_may2018.pdf

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.

You will probably want a laptop computer that is 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 school day (afternoon labs too) without recharging.  Several brands have a 10 to 12-hour battery life now. You will spend long hours at university, you do not want to have to carry a charger or spare battery with you.

4. Recommend at least 8GB RAM for new machines - as this will become necessary within the lifetime of the laptop.  But 4GB will suffice on already owned machines.

5. Recommended 500 MB 7200 RPM hard drive, or even better: an SSD with at least 240 GB.  If you need a great deal of extra storage, consider cloud storage which is provided, or 128 GB or larger SD cards (if your laptop supports it), or USB sticks (if your laptop does not support SD cards), though they tend to be annoying when they always have to be plugged in and unplugged when you move your device.

6. Recommended OS : Latest supported version (eg. Windows 10).  Do not run old
versions because they are always 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 OnTheHub.com (sometimes 95% or 100% off) and other sites recommended by UWaterloo.

10. You will be granted 10 GB of space on the cloud from UW and Microsoft. Google also offers free space. Use cloud storage and/or USB sticks or other means to regularly backup 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 OS/X 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 and many other locations using 802.11 A,B,G and N.