Laptops required for engineering students

By Blair Dee Hodges, Staff Writer

With tuition costs rising, civil and environmental engineering students will have one more expense to account for, beginning Fall Semester.

All junior and senior students in civil and environmental engineering will be required to own a personal laptop by fall, said Paul Tikalsky, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the U.

“This was a decision we reached about two years ago and now we are ready to fully implement it,” Tikalsky said. “The field is becoming more and more integrated with tools we can use through the Internet, so it’s important and convenient for students to be able to access the tools they need anywhere they have an Internet connection.”

He said the department has set up a virtual private network that allows students to access computer programs and other resources the department uses. In the past, these tools have only been available in U computer labs or when a computer user is connected to the U network.

“Now they can access the necessary tools anywhere in the world, as long as they’re online,” Tikalsky said.

Tikalsky said civil and environmental engineering isn’t the only group on campus requiring laptops8212;the David Eccles School of Business also requires them. Other universities in the state don’t have similar requirements yet, but the civil and environmental engineering department at Utah State University strongly recommends that all students in the department own laptops for similar reasons.

Christi Forsyth, an academic advisor for the U’s department, said the new requirement hasn’t appeared to cause a stir among students.

“Most students already have laptops, so it was a pretty smooth transition to require them,” Forsyth said. “It wasn’t that big of a change.”

Tikalsky estimated the requirement will affect about 200 juniors and seniors. He added that perhaps the most affected group has been professors in the department who are getting used to using the new tools online.

To help students who might not be able to afford new laptops, Tikalsky said the department is offering scholarships and other financial aid to help. Information on the assistance can be found at

“This is a good way to get ready for future careers using these tools, and it will allow much easier access for the students,” Tikalsky said.

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