Computer Information

Computers are essential tools for an engineering education, just as they are in the engineering workplace. They are used extensively for modeling, design, and communication. Course resources are  distributed through  OnQ and assignments are often submitted electronically. Internet access is needed for registration, accessing course materials and grades, and for communicating with instructors and peers. Official communication with all students is via the  Queen's email account.  

Each student will need high speed Internet access and a computer with a webcam, headphones, and a microphone. Headphones with a built in-microphone are recommended. 


The engineering program uses online materials extensively, including videos and simulations. These activities require a reliable home Internet service. There are usually several options depending on your location including fiber, cable, DSL, and satellite service, but look for a minimum bandwidth of 10 Mb per second per user in the household sharing the service.  

Consider a wired connection to your Internet router rather than WiFi for the best performance. 

Remote areas may have lower quality options available, and it may be important to ask others in the household to refrain from activities that require significant bandwidth, like video streaming, when you will be participating in classes. 

If broadband connectivity is not available, tethering to a mobile device such as a smartphone with strong signal and minimum download speeds of 5 Mbps is an option, although not recommended.  

Expanded use of your Internet connections (broadband or mobile) may cause you to exceed your monthly data plan allowance and result in significant overage charges. An unlimited data plan, if available, is highly recommended. 


We recommend that students have a laptop, as they are portable, need little space, and are often used for collaborative work and in classes. If you already own a laptop, and it was a mid-range model made in the past few years, you will probably have no problem using it in our program. If you are buying a new laptop, any mid-range model (generally about $1000 or more) should suffice. Low-end netbooks are not a good idea. Some things to consider in buying a laptop: 

  • We suggest a PC running Windows 10 or 11.
  • You will want a screen large enough for editing documents, making diagrams, and running simulations. A 13" screen or larger on the laptop should be fine, though you may find a larger external monitor is useful for at-home work. 
  • Battery life is important for mobility; most laptops have a battery life of 4 hours. Longer battery life is better, but generally more costly.  
  • Generally the more RAM the better; 8 GB as a minimum.
  • An integrated video camera (webcam) or external USB camera is necessary for making recordings and to participate in web-based lectures and labs


Software used in the first year engineering program is listed below. Most software is distributed through our application delivery system, Apps.Eng. Some of the software listed below will be distributed online by ITServices. The links below show more information. 

  • SOLIDWORKS - This full-featured CAD program will be used in APSC 162 (Engineering Graphics) and can be run from Apps.Eng.  
  • MATLAB- this high-level programming language is used in many courses. It can be run from Apps.Eng, or downloaded and installed at no charge from the Software Center found at MyQueen'sU . Detailed instructions are available on the Incoming Student page: . More information is posted at 
  • Arduino IDE - run from Apps.Eng. Details about it are at 
  • Queen's recommends that all students install antivirus and antispyware software on their computers. For Windows computers , Microsoft's free Security Essentials software is recommended (for Windows 10 users, it is included in the installation). For Mac OS computers, the free Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac is a good choice. 

We also recommend that all students install the latest version of Microsoft Office, available for free from MyQueensU, which includes current versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and more - find out how.  Students may be able to use older versions of Microsoft Office or competing software, but they will be responsible to adapt instructions to those packages. 

Any other software that must be purchased must be done so legally. Copying and using someone else's software without buying a copy yourself is illegal, and a violation of the Copyright Act. Following legal and ethical standards is an important part of being a Professional Engineer and is essential for all engineering students. 

Windows vs Mac 

About a third of our students run Mac OS systems successfully. Many software titles (e.g., Microsoft Office, Matlab) are available in Mac versions. However, most of the Engineering software products are Windows only.  A good example is SOLIDWORKS, a CAD software package used in first year APSC162 Engineering Graphics course.  The software natively runs on Windows OS only.  Users with macOS computers can use Apps.Eng to run these proprietary titles, along with other Windows software, with some performance decrease.