Apps: What are engineering students using?

one smartphone with colorful application icons (3d render)A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in the fall of 2016 reports that 80% of US adults with some college and 89% of US college graduate own a smartphone.   (Pew Research Center, January 11, 2017).  Not surprising as the smartphone is the go-to for recent news, connecting with friends and family, and learning new things.  We know that smartphones are popular with the college population but how are college students using them in support of their study, in particular engineering students?


Smartphones are only as powerful as the apps installed — and apps have come a long way.  A basic Google search for “engineering apps” retrieves several reliable lists: 20 Apple apps for engineers (EDN), 10 iPad Apps for Engineers (ASME), 9 Android Apps for Engineers (ASME)… and others. Many of these apps fall under the category of productivity based, apps that get things done e.g. modeling, calculations, converters.  Students’ have their favorite.   Listed below are three of the most liked apps of a small sample of students at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

Chegg – “a company … that specializes in online textbook rentals (both in physical and digital formats), homework help, online tutoring, scholarships and internship matching.” (Wiki)

In terms of pricing, Chegg is a better option than Amazon.  Their buy and rent fees are much lower and for additional fees you can request a tutor and help with solution problems.  The app is a gateway to the Chegg world.  Available at iTunes and Google Play.   

WolframAlpha – is the “Wikipedia” of computational data.  A student submits a query and instead of linking to an outside source WolframAlpha will compute the answer based on its stored and curated data.  WolframAlpha covers mathematics, statistical & data analysis, physics, chemistry, materials, engineering, astronomy, earth science, life sciences, computational sciences, units & measures, weather, health & medicine, transportation and much more; all in the palm of your hand.   Wolfram also provides separate apps for disciplines eg Calculus Course Assistant, General Chemistry, Astronomy and others.    There is nominal fee.  Available at iTunes and Google Play.

AutoCAD 360 (Autodesk) – Modeling apps of all types were the most mentioned and AutoCAD 360 from Autodesk was on top of the list.  AutoCAD 360 is a “DWG viewing application, with easy-to-use drawing and drafting tools that allow you to view, create, edit, and share AutoCAD drawings across web and mobile devices – anytime, anywhere.” (Google Play).  Free.  Available at iTunes and Google Play.

Ana Torres, Assistant Head, Dibner Library, NYU Division of Libraries,

We welcome your comments and suggestions. If you have a resource that you would like to see highlighted please leave us a comment.


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