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Office of Information Technology's Role in
Supporting the Student Computer Ownership Program

2 December, 1996

Student Computer Ownership Advisory Committee Report

After careful study, Georgia Tech has adopted a policy requiring all freshmen, beginning with those entering in the summer of '97, and all students joining the class of 2001 and all subsequent classes to own a computer. This initiative recognizes the established importance of computers as "personal productivity tools" and their growing use as educational tools. Computer based educational materials are being developed at an ever accelerating rate and their integration into every subject area taught at Georgia Tech is continually expanding. The development of the Georgia Tech advanced Futurenet network provides the infrastructure for increased uses for computers. These exciting developments and our desire to provide the best possible education for our students led Georgia Tech to undertake this initiative.

This document explains to incoming students what Georgia Tech will require them to have in order to fully participate in this initiative. These requirements will most certainly evolve in response to changing needs and technologies.

Although issues like financing of computer hardware and software will be dealt with elsewhere, minimizing cost and maximizing benefits to our students have been central to the decision making process used by the Student Computer Ownership Committee (SCOC), the faculty-student committee charged with overseeing this initiative.


Student Computers: What They Need to do.

Each student must have a machine that possesses the basic functionality needed to operate in the Georgia Tech networked environment and to utilize commonly available productivity tools. The basic functions are broken down into Network, Productivity and Educational needs and are further delineated as follows:

Network Needs

Ethernet connection for on-campus students
Internet service provider for off-campus students
Web browser
File upload/download
Remote login: text and graphics
  • Productivity Needs
    Word processing
    Graphical plotting and drawing
    Calculation and data analysis
  • Educational Needs
    Sound player
    Video player
    Graphical web page creation
    Mathematical manipulation and calculation

    The Minimum Software Bundle

    One key advantage of universal student computer ownership is that Georgia Tech will be in a stronger position for negotiating software licenses and prices. Cost and functionality were the key factors in choosing software to meet the minimum needs articulated above. Students may choose to purchase additional capability and there may be Colleges or Schools which require software beyond the minimum bundle outlined (see Evolution of the Initiative).

    With these ideas in mind, the recommended minimum bundle is:

    Microsoft Office (Office 97 for Windows 95 OR Office Mac 4.2.1)
    Kalidograph 3.0
    Adobe Page Mill 2.0
    Matlab 4.0 (student version or professional version1)
    Maple 5 Release 4
    Exodus1 (version 5.6 for Windows, 6.0 for Mac)
    Eudora-lite 3.0
    Netscape 3.0
    Telnet 2.7
    Quicktime 2.5/AVI Player (Microsoft)

    This software will be available to students in the latest versions for Macintosh (System 7.5.5) or PC (Windows 95) environments.


    1 This software may or may not be included in the minimum bundle depending on vendor pricing.

    The SCOC recognizes that the capabilities of a particular piece of software may change significantly over the 4 - 5 years spent at Georgia Tech by a typical student. To address this problem, Georgia Tech will negotiate with vendors to provide a software distribution system which allows updates at little or no costs to the students and faculty.

    Minimum Platform Requirements

    The minimum specifications for two computers of relatively equivalent computing power and cost which are capable of running the minimum software bundle are:

    System I Windows 95			System II MacOS
    133 MHz Pentium processor		120 MHz 603e Power PC processor
    32 MB memory				32 MB memory
    1 GB hard drive				1.6 GB hard drive
    15 in. color monitor			15 in. color monitor
    Sound card and speakers			Sound card (standard) and speakers
    8x CD ROM				8x CD ROM
    CAT5 (10 BaseT) ethernet interface	CAT5 (10 BaseT) ethernet interface

    The Georgia Tech Computer Store has available the following computers that meet these minimum specifications: System I from Dell Computer and System II from Apple Computer. There are several other manufacturers who make computers that meet or exceed these specifications. However, in purchasing one of the two systems available at the Georgia Tech Computer Store, students will be able to take advantage of quantity discounts negotiated by Georgia Tech. Ultimately, choice of a hardware platform is up to the student and some students may already own a computer that meets the needs described.


    The current price for System I is $1850.00 and for System II $1880.00 with software costing and estimated additional $300.00 (tax not included). Software pricing will depend on on-going negotiations with vendors and, with site-licensing, costs may be reduced to $200.00. Also, hardware prices and specifications are continually changing. Students are advised to contact the Georgia Tech Computer Store regarding the most current negotiated price for a computer meeting the minimum hardware specifications.


    2 Students living off-campus will need to purchase a 28.8K modem which sells for approximately $100.

    Support Issues

    In making a decision, students should be guided by the fact that Georgia Tech will actively support the recommended computers and minimum software bundle. This means that these items will be available on campus. The Georgia Tech Computer Store which will also provide, for a fee, after warranty repair service and hardware and software installation. In addition, help with hardware and software trouble-shooting will be available. On-campus support for other platforms and software may be limited.

    Facilities Provided by Georgia Tech

    As a result of this initiative, the focus of campus computing will shift to take full advantage of student ownership of computers. Computers available on campus will tend to be more powerful. However, certain basic functions will be maintained and, in some cases, enhanced. The following is a list of facilities that will be available:

    Internet access
    Clusters for short-term access to computers running minimum software bundle
    Departmental clusters with major-specific software (e.g., mathematical
    manipulation and calculation, CAD, compilers and data-base)
    Servers with licensed software for key courses
    Special classrooms and labs for computer-enhanced presentations

    Evolution of the Initiative

    Because computer technology and the use of computers in the classroom is rapidly changing, the capabilities needed in a student computer system will continually change. Colleges and Schools may also impose additional requirements for software and possibly hardware for students in their majors. For this reason, the specifications of the minimum Georgia Tech supported system will be reviewed annually and changes made as appropriate.

    Please refer to the following web page for more information on information technology issues.
    OIT's Frequently Asked Questions

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Notwithstanding any language to the contrary, nothing contained herein constitutes nor is intended to constitute an offer, inducement, promise, or contract of any kind. The data contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not represented to be error free. Any links to non-Georgia Tech information are provided as a courtesy. They are not intended to nor do they constitute an endorsement by the Georgia Institute of Technology  of the linked materials.
Last Modified: September 11, 1998 5:00pm
Approved by External Affairs 10/23/97