Frequently Asked Questions for Art + Design Students

Please make sure you have read the general Frequently Asked Questions on the NJIT Computer Requirement.

These FAQs are for students enrolled in Art + Design degree programs (Digital Design, Industrial Design, and Interior Design).
Art + Design students will ultimately purchase the Architecture computer specification prior to the start of their sophomore year and should wait for the fall specifications to be released.

1:
Will I eventually need my own computer in the art + design program?
2:
Why don’t I need the computer for freshman year?
3:
Will I be able to have access to the labs outside of class time to complete my work?
4:
Will I have continued and guaranteed access to the lab whenever I want to work?
5:
Students in studio can bring in food and drink around their computers to make it more like a home. Will we be able to do that in the lab?
6:
Can I buy the freshman architecture computer and bring it into the lab?
7:
I want a computer for convenience even though I have access to the lab. What should I get?
8:
What are the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the desktop model now instead of waiting a year?
9:
What about a laptop?

 

1: Will I eventually need my own computer in the art + design program?

YES. Design studio work in all three Art + Design programs require the use of the computer to complete projects.

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2: Why don’t I need the computer for freshman year?

You don’t need your OWN computer for freshman year. There is a common foundation year for Art + Design first year students. Computer laboratories dedicated to students enrolled in particular courses are provided for the freshman level Art + Design classes. These computers are graphics-capable and have the software needed for completion of Art + Design freshman coursework.

If your major is... You should buy your machine...
Industrial Design or Interior Design before entering your second year.
Digital Design. before entering your third year.

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3: Will I be able to have access to the labs outside of class time to complete my work?

Yes. The labs are open and available whenever the university is open and classes are in session. This includes 24/7 access most of the time. The labs are closed when the university is closed for holidays (e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas) and at the end of classes each semester.

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4: Will I have continued and guaranteed access to the lab whenever I want to work?

No. These are shared computers. While we limit the number of classes assigned to any teaching lab in the art + design programs, they are not exclusive to a particular class. Over the past decade we have empirically determined that we can have multiple sections assigned to any one given laboratory and students still have opportunity to complete their assigned work in a timely manner. Students must also vacate the laboratory when a scheduled class is being held. Students should pack up and save their work when the instructor enters to set up for the class. On occasion, a meeting or presentation may require the use of a particular lab and students will not be able to work during those times. Students are NOT permitted to stay and work during any meeting, presentation, or class being held in the laboratory.

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5: Students in studio can bring in food and drink around their computers to make it more like a home. Will we be able to do that in the lab?

No. Students take personal responsibility for accidentally spilling food or drink or damaging their personally owned computer in studio. They paid for their computers, they must fix them, and they must find a way to get their work done. The teaching laboratories are shared spaces and the equipment belongs to, and is maintained by, the school. As such, NJIT has to enforce strict protocol and make the best effort possible to create a situation in which students have the resources they need to complete their work.

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6: Can I buy the freshman architecture computer and bring it into the lab?

You can buy one, but not bring it into the lab. Unlike a studio, you don’t control the space. It’s not your desk/table. And a desktop computer is too heavy to carry around. Commuting freshman students in Art + Design programs, and commuting second year Digital Design have the option to use lockers, but not dedicated studio space in the first year.

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7: I want a computer for convenience even though I have access to the lab. What should I get?

If you want something in your residence hall room or at home, you have a few options. You can rely on the laboratory computers to get your graphic work done and use almost anything that meets the NJIT baseline specifications to complete the rest of your freshman coursework as well as email and entertainment. If you’ve been using a computer and it is still serviceable, you may want to push it for one more year. You will be able to use the laboratory computers to complete your NJIT-assigned coursework. This way, you purchase the new computer next year with the more advanced 2009 specifications. Alternatively, you may purchase the 2016 College of Architecture and Design (CoAD) computer (be careful to make sure that you purchase it through the NJIT Lenovo web portal ONLY to get the exact computer you would need for imaging when you get a dedicated studio). This is a desktop model that would remain in your dormitory or home during your first academic year. As such, we do NOT image it for your freshman year. Any software other than NJIT standard issue software is obtained, loaded, and maintained on your own. When you are assigned a studio in the future, you will bring in that computer and it will be imaged just like the students in the architecture program.

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8: What are the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing the desktop model now instead of waiting a year?

Since the introduction of the personal computer more than thirty years ago, we have seen prices drop and quality improve every year. While the price of the CoAD computer has been relatively stable, hovering around $2,000, we have seen improvements in speed, storage, overall quality, display monitors, etc. every year. So if you wait one year, you will have the newest specified computer for the start of your studio work. Architecture students who are enrolled in a five-year program, sometimes find that they want to upgrade their machines after three of four years. Sometimes they change machines, sometimes they add RAM and hard drive capacity, and on occasion may upgrade the graphics card. By waiting a year you decrease the likelihood that upgrades will be needed during your undergraduate career. Furthermore, the standard warranty is 3 years - which means that you shouldn’t have to worry about service payments (assuming you complete the program in the remaining three year period). The sole disadvantage is one of convenience if you do not have other computer options for your dorm room or home.

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9: What about a laptop?

Laptops are convenient - but not the standard equipment for professional graphics work. In offices and industry, laptops are most often used for presentations, traveling, and communication (and also personal entertainment). If you have a laptop that meets NJIT baseline specifications, then you may/should use that as your “spare” for your freshman year. If you purchase a laptop, keep in mind that you will still have to purchase the required desktop when your program begins the dedicated studio space aspect. Unlike desktop computers, laptops cannot be easily upgraded to accommodate graphic use. If you want to use your laptop for graphic work, you will spend more money than you would for a comparable desktop. And, like any computer not dedicated to a studio and tied into our network, you will have to provide your own software. We do not image any laptops at the College of Architecture and Design for students in any of our programs. If you purchase an “NJIT” laptop, and you want to be able to run graphics software that you obtain on your own, you are strongly urged to upgrade to 16 GB RAM and a dedicated graphics card (instead of the integrated graphics accelerator included with some of the models). It is also strongly suggested that you make sure that any hard drive you purchase with a laptop is either a solid state drive (SSD) or one that has a speed of 7200 RPM. You will find that the 5400 RPM hard drives cause a time lag that can lead to frustration when designing with graphic programs. But again, remember, the purchase of the laptop means that you will still have to purchase the desktop machine when you are given dedicated studio space. The value of the software provided to labs and dedicated studio machines generally exceeds the cost of the machine itself! NOTE: If you want to be able to download and run a small subset of the studio software used, or maximize compatibility with work you will do in studio, purchase a computer with a Windows operating system. The current operating system in use as a standard in CoAD is Windows 10 Professional.

Please note that you are likely to see a number of CoAD students carrying around laptops. These were purchased in addition to their studio computers. They are often used for convenience (email/entertainment/back-up digital storage). Sometimes students purchase one or two of the many applications they use in studio to give them an additional workstation when they try to get more work done at the end of a project. They are supplemental machines, not replacement computers.

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Last Updated: August 22, 2017