Mobile Computing Program FAQ
Why a laptop?
The power of mobile computing allows students to have "anywhere/anytime" access to their computer software and the Internet using the thousands of laptop connections available in public places across campus. Almost every class has a computer-based element and uses electronic information; laptop classrooms on campus offer both power and network connections, and wireless access is also available in every classroom as well as across the core campus and in the residence halls.
Why multiple models?
We strive to select hardware that will meet the full program requirements. Compatibility factors include vendors with great reputations, models which are fully supportable, configurations that meet varied academic program requirements, and student preferences. We believe providing a limited number of models provides students with choices to best suit their needs and allows the program to continue to ensure student success.
How do I choose?
A student’s choice of laptop model will vary depending on academic program needs, personal preferences, and budget. Our ultrabook model provides excellent value in a traditional laptop package and should meet the academic needs of most students. Our 2-in-1 model provides similar specifications to our ultrabook with the added functionality of a tablet and is a great option for those students desiring that functionality. Our workstation model offers a larger screen, more memory, a larger drive and discrete graphics, which may be of interest to those with more substantial computing needs.
By standardizing the laptop computers we offer, the Mobile Computing Program can provide the best support -- both formal and informal -- to Program participants. The VCC Help Desk is not only well-equipped to handle questions and problems with the Rensselaer laptop, but the student consultants who work there also provide an extensive peer-to-peer support group. All selected Mobile Computing laptops are tested for compatibility with the Rensselaer network and come loaded with the software you will need. On-campus repair is also available for standardized laptop models.
Can I bring my own laptop?
Okay, what's the difference between the Program and my getting my own laptop?
It comes down to support. Briefly, the support you receive via the Mobile Computing Program includes a pre-installed and tested software image, on-campus Help Desk user support, repairs done on campus by RPI staff who are also Dell and Lenovo-certified technicians, and the availability of loaner laptops should a repair require some time to complete.
Not so briefly, Mobile Computing support includes:
A pre-installed software image, which includes:
- Windows 10 Education edition -- approximately a $100 upcharge from Home Premium
- Microsoft Office 2016 Professional -- approximately a $100 upcharge from the Home edition
- Other software that is available to all RPI students via a free campus download is pre-installed, configured and tested. This includes Microsoft Defender (anti-virus), and Maple (math), NX (cad program).
Software upgrades -- When Microsoft releases a new OS or Office product, current RPI students who are participating in the Mobile program are entitled to upgrades.
Consulting help -- The Help Desk is available to all students, but members of the Help Desk staff are most productive with the laptops from the Mobile program because we have more experience with these models.
Hardware repairs and loaners -- Current Mobile Computing laptops come with a 36-month warranty, and the repairs can be done right here on campus by Dell and Lenovo-certified technicians. No need to deal with people off-campus to get the laptop fixed! What's more, in the event that a student's laptop does need repairs, a pool of loaner laptops is available so that students participating in the Mobile Computing Program may continue their course work while their machine is being repaired.
36-month accidental damage coverage -- If the laptop is accidentally damaged (such as by being dropped or having something spilled on it), the damage is covered under Lenovo's ThinkPad Protection and Dell's Warranty.
Pre-tested connectivity -- Members of the Mobile Computing team test the program laptop in Rensselaer's own campus environment, so we know ahead of time that our laptop will easily connect to the campus network. There is nothing proprietary about our network configuration; we just test our devices on simple things like wireless connectivity and printing.
Reliable hardware vendor -- Dell and Lenovo are quality companies that provides quality products. Please visit the Lenovo website or the Dell website to learn more about Rensselaer's Mobile Computing partners.
When will I know all the specs and final cost of the Fall laptop?
The specifications and pricing for Fall 2018 will be available in mid-April.
This all sounds good, but I really prefer to use a Mac.
Apple makes fine products, but we are unable to support them to the same level that we can support the MCP laptops or other PC-based systems. Please check out the special notice to Macintosh users on this year's Minimum Specifications webpage for more information about bringing your Mac to campus.
How do I order the laptop package?
To place your laptop order, log in to the Student Information System (SIS) using your nine-digit Rensselaer ID Number (RIN) and your PIN. (The first time you log in, your SIS PIN is your date of birth in MMDDYY format.) We will be accepting laptop orders May 15, so please continue to watch this website for additional information!
For the Fall 2017 semester, students should submit their laptop orders by Friday, June 23, 2015 to ensure delivery during the Fall laptop distribution during Navigating Renssealer and Beyond. Orders received after that date will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. After the initial laptop distribution at the beginning of each fall semester, the Mobile Computing Program will accept orders anytime during the school year. Students are eligible to participate in the Mobile Computing Program once per academic year (July to June.)
What if I have questions?
You can always feel free to contact the Mobile team by calling (518) 276-3838, or via e-mail.
Can I also bring my desktop computer?
Yes, you can also bring your desktop computer if you wish. If you want to have two network connections in your residence hall room, you can purchase a switch, but it would be a good idea to check out the space available in your residence hall room first.
Also please note that students are not allowed to have their own personal wireless routers. If you do install a switch, please be aware that the network enforces various security features; if your switch is tries to participate in spanning tree, your network port will automatically become disabled. If your switch acts as a DHCP server, the network port will automatically be disabled. And if we learn excessive MAC addresses from your port, again, your port will be automatically disabled. Additional security features may be implemented by DotCIO at any time to ensure a secure and available campus network.
I'm not an incoming freshman. Do I still need a laptop computer?
Yes, all undergraduate students are required to have a laptop computer, and are entitled to participate in the Mobile Computing Program.
I'm a graduate student. Can I get a laptop computer?
All matriculated RPI students may participate in the Mobile Computing Program. Laptops are distributed on the Troy campus only.
I missed the deadline for ordering a laptop computer! What can I do?
Freshmen and other incoming students for the Fall semester should order their laptops as soon as possible.
All students can join the MCP anytime during the year. Often, the Mobile Computing Program has inventory available and can fill orders in a matter of hours, although in some cases the MCP staff may need to order more inventory from the vendor. Finally, in some cases where it is very late in the academic year, the Mobile Computing team recommends that students wait until the fall and join the upcoming MCP at that time. Keep in mind that the Mobile Computing Program offers new laptop models every fall!
When will I receive my laptop computer?
Laptop distribution is a scheduled event for incoming fall and spring freshmen. For students entering Rensselaer for the fall semester, the distribution is done as a scheduled event during Navigating Rensselaer & Beyond; it is also a scheduled event for students entering in January. In all cases, the Mobile Computing team will make the distribution dates, times, and locations available on this website.
If you purchase a laptop package and are not part of the incoming class, you can usually pick up your laptop at the scheduled events right before the start of classes. If you order your laptop during the school year, you can usually pick it up within a day or two after placing your order.
Is there a network connection in my residence hall room?
Every room in the residence halls has a wired network connection for each student, and RPI wireless is also available in all residence halls. Please note that students are not permitted to have their own personal wireless routers. Students will need to bring their own ethernet cable if they will be using the wired ethernet. It may also be necessary to purchase a dongle to connect a laptop to the wired ethernet (some laptops do not have dedicated ethernet ports any longer).
Please refer to the Networking/Remote Access section of this website to learn more about networking or to submit a problem report.
How do I print? Do I need to buy a printer?
Once connected to the network, you can access the public printers located in every computer classroom, the public computing labs and public areas, and several residence halls. There is a semesterly allowance for 8.5x11 black and white printing through these printers, and charges for color or poster printing are posted to the bursar bill. Infomation about printing services and charges can be found at our Printing Services pages.
You can bring your own printer, but we recommend waiting until you are on campus to decide if you really want to purchase one. Keep in mind that wireless printers have a wireless signal and therefore act as a personal wireless router, which are not allowed on campus.
Several printer models are available through the Rensselaer Collegiate Store.
How do I get my laptop computer repaired?
Warranty services are available through Rensselaer Computing Repair (RCR), which is located on the basement level of the Voorhees Computing Center. If you participate in the Mobile Computing Program, a limited number of "loaner" laptops may be available on a "first come, first serve" basis in the unlikely instance that your computer may need extensive repairs.
What about insurance?
The Mobile Computing Program does not provide insurance for loss. You should check with your insurance to determine what, if any, coverage you may already have through your homeowners' or other personal property policies.
Haylor, Freyer and Coon Collegiate Student insurance offers a policy with a low deductible which covers computers and other electronic equipment. Note that this firm is an insurance company and is not part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Please visit the Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc website and select the Personal Property option for more information and an on-line enrollment form.
Where do I get help?
Help is available at the Help Desk which is located on the main floor of the Voorhees Computing Center (VCC); please check their website for regular hours and additional help-related information. If you are unsure if the problem is hardware related or not, we recommend you stop by the Helpdesk first for the consultants to assess the problem.