Personal vs. Company-Issued Laptops for Mechanical Engineers: What's the Norm?

In summary, the conversation revolved around the topic of purchasing a new laptop for the fall semester as a mechanical engineering student. The individual was considering getting a workstation certified with Inventor, but was unsure if companies allow workers to use their personal computers for projects while working from home. Opinion varied, but it was generally recommended to use company-provided resources for work projects to avoid ownership disputes. It was also suggested to save money and not invest in a high-end workstation unless it is necessary for large assembly work. Additionally, it was noted that CAD software licenses are expensive and cannot be taken with you after graduation. Lastly, it was mentioned that most companies will provide engineers with the necessary hardware for their job, and the need for personal hardware is only
  • #1
mech8
I am planning to buy a new laptop for the fall semester (mechanical engineering, junior year). I was planning to get a workstation that is certified with Inventor, but I have a question to ask. For those who have experience working as a Mechanical Engineer or those who know people working as a Mechanical Engineer, do companies allow workers to use their personal computer for projects if you want to work at home? Do most companies provide engineers with computers to use for home? If they would not let me, I was thinking of saving the money and getting a consumer-level laptop. Thank you for any replies.
 
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  • #2
mech8 said:
I am planning to buy a new laptop for the fall semester (mechanical engineering, junior year). I was planning to get a workstation that is certified with Inventor, but I have a question to ask. For those who have experience working as a Mechanical Engineer or those who know people working as a Mechanical Engineer, do companies allow workers to use their personal computer for projects if you want to work at home? Do most companies provide engineers with computers to use for home? If they would not let me, I was thinking of saving the money and getting a consumer-level laptop. Thank you for any replies.

If they do allow it, I don't recommend it. If you use company resources (time, money, offices, computers, paper) to create your project, the ownership rights of the result are at best clouded.

If you want no chance of disputed ownership, do your personal projects using only your own resources, and forego saving money.
 
  • #3
anorlunda said:
If they do allow it, I don't recommend it. If you use company resources (time, money, offices, computers, paper) to create your project, the ownership rights of the result are at best clouded.

If you want no chance of disputed ownership, do your personal projects using only your own resources, and forego saving money.

I see. What if, however, you are working on a project for your job and you want to work on it from home?
 
  • #4
mech8 said:
I see. What if, however, you are working on a project for your job and you want to work on it from home?

Absolutely no problem if it is a work project, not a personal project.

My last company required employees to take their laptops home. Their disaster recovery plan included everyone doing their jobs from home if their building was destroyed. If the employee had a reason to not ferry the PC back and forth, they provided a second company laptop to keep at home to be used for company business only.
 
  • #5
In either case (company laptop or your personal laptop), you will likely use a company-issued VPN access card to log in from home, and you will be required to keep the anti-virus software up to date with the company's designated AV software.
 
  • #6
I see. So, in both of your opinions, should I look for a workstation that not only will take care of my school needs, but can be used for my work projects when I start working? Thank you for your time.
 
  • #7
It is my experience, which may not reflect the majority, that engineers who are permitted to work from home will receive a company provided computer / laptop for that purpose. At very least the company I work for would not permit a personal computer to be used for work. I am not sure if this is typical in various industries, but personally I would save the money and get something that can do what I need and expect my employer to provide me with all the tools necessary to do my job.
 
  • #8
Depends where you work and what you work on.
My last job could have cared less about what I used to get work done but we didn't have too much proprietary info. No VPN and I could access the data from any device with Teamviewer that I set up on the server. Yeah, I even had enough access to the server to set that up!
My new position requires all my work is done on the issued laptop and no files or data are to be transferred to personal PC or even external drive. Laptops must be locked to something heavy with the provided cable if left out of sight (hotel room). The 4 passwords I need to finally get to the VPN, to get work done, expire every 30 days. Etc...

You'll likely find the larger the company you find employment with, the more they will be concerned about data security. Aviation, military and medical contractors are a few of the exceptions where small shops need to follow strict security guidelines.

The way security is handled among companies aside, you should be issued a laptop if you are required to work out of the office.
 
  • #9
My opinion:
  1. You do not need a "certified" workstation for use with Inventor, especially if you're buying it with your own money. I recommend building a computer that fits your personal needs, not professional ones. Any CAD software that might be used will work on any modern computer and high-end hardware is only needed for high-end huge assembly work, which you shouldn't need to do at home.
  2. Keep in mind CAD software licenses are expensive, and once you graduate you can't take the "student" licenses with you.
  3. You do not need to plan on having your own hardware to do your work as a design engineer unless you plan to be a private consultant. Any company worth it's salt will provide hardware for you to do your job. If not, you should be careful about what you're signing your self up for.
 

Related to Personal vs. Company-Issued Laptops for Mechanical Engineers: What's the Norm?

1. What are the benefits of using a personal laptop for work?

Using a personal laptop for work allows for greater convenience, as employees can work from anywhere and at any time. It also allows for better customization and organization of work files and programs.

2. Is it secure to use a personal laptop for work?

Security can be a concern when using a personal laptop for work, but there are steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of sensitive work information. This includes using strong passwords, regularly updating software, and using a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing company networks.

3. Can I use my personal laptop for work if I work remotely?

Yes, a personal laptop can be used for work even if an employee works remotely. However, it's important to ensure that the laptop meets any security and compatibility requirements set by the company.

4. Are there any disadvantages to using a personal laptop for work?

One potential disadvantage is that a personal laptop may not have the same level of technical support and resources as a company-issued laptop. Additionally, using a personal laptop for work may blur the boundaries between work and personal life.

5. How can I keep my personal laptop for work organized?

To keep your personal laptop organized for work, it's important to create separate folders for work and personal files, regularly declutter and delete unnecessary files, and use productivity tools such as calendars and to-do lists to stay on top of tasks and deadlines.

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