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 communicating engineering work. Course resources are often distributed through websites and assignments are often submitted electronically. Internet access is needed for course registration, checking marks, and email communications with instructors and peers (all students must use their Queen's email account for communications with the university). Students frequently work collaboratively on their laptops in the ILC group rooms.

As a result, we strongly recommend that each student have a computer, and that each student sign up for high speed Internet access from their off-campus residence. Students in Queen's residences may signup for ResNet, and high-speed access in the Kingston area is available through service providers. The Queen's WiFi network covers most of the campus. We also provide several clusters of computers on campus for those who choose to not purchase a computer.


We recommend that students bring laptops if possible. Laptops have the advantages of portability and smaller space requirement, and are often used for collaborative work and in tutorials. If you already own a laptop, and it was a mid-range model in the past couple of 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 $600 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 a Mac running a recent version of MacOS. For those interested in bringing an Apple MacBook laptop, please see Windows vs. Mac below.

  • You will want a screen large enough for editing documents, making diagrams, and running simulations. A 13" screen or larger should be fine.

  • 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. Windows PC's should be 64-bit, not 32.

  • An integrated video camera (webcam) is helpful for making recordings.


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.

Several software packages have recently been renewed with enhanced licensing that will provide unlimited access to the Queen’s Community. This software is available at no charge for all faculty, staff, students and departmental labs.  

We also recommend that all students have a copy of Microsoft Office 2016.  All students can download Microsoft Office 2016 suite for free from MyQueensU, which includes current versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, OneNote, and more - find out how.  

Students may also use older versions of Microsoft Office or competing software, but they will be responsible to adapt instructions to those packages.

We recommend the purchase of the software by everyone who owns a computer (from Queen's or elsewhere). 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, and have no problem. Most recommended software (e.g., Microsoft Office, Matlab) is available in Macintosh versions but some (e.g., Solid Edge, the CAD software) is not. Macintosh owners can use Apps.Eng in most cases to run Windows software. 

Further information

If you have questions about personal computers or software in first year, please contact