12 Engineering Student Essentials

12 Engineering Student Essentials: You’ll Never Guess What’s Number One

What’s the one thing you know every engineering student needs? If you guessed a calculator, then give yourself a pat on the back.

You’re right! Most students come to school with their calculators and pencils in tow. But 12 other items are just as important for an engineering student to have.

Below is our list of 12 essential items that every engineer should have in their arsenal:

Engineering Student Essentials List

  • A backpack 
  • Phone Charger
  • Flash Drive (and/or an External Hard Drive)
  • Pen/Pencil Case
  • Planner
  • Kindle
  • Laundry Bag/Hamper
  • Ear Plugs
  • Calculator
  • Flashlight/Lamp
  • Loose Leaf Paper/Notebook/Pen
  • A Laptop

1. A backpack 

I’m sure you already have a backpack from when you were in middle/high school, but wait! At college, everyone has a backpack (except those who carry around bags), and they all look about the same size. 

That means that yours will get lost in all of them. Get a bag with at least two feet on each side of your body so it won’t get lost behind other students’ backpacks. Also, try to find a dedicated engineering student’s backpack with lots of pockets and compartments. They will come in very handy.

2. Phone Charger

You will always need your phone’s battery to die at some point or another, so you’re going to need one of those external chargers. 

It doesn’t have to be anything special unless your phone happens to be a Samsung Galaxy SIII/IV, in which case you should invest in a power bank or a phone case that has a built-in battery.

3. Flash Drive (and/or an External Hard Drive)

Don’t make the same mistake I did and forget about backing up your work or saving it on a computer that doesn’t belong to you for a second. You might think you’ll remember everything, but trust me, by midterms you’ll have so much stuff going on that you won’t be able to keep track of all of your classes and assignments. 

I learned this lesson when my flash drive died in the middle of writing an essay and suddenly all that hard work was gone forever unless I wrote it again in one night; luckily it wasn’t due until the next day so after staying up all night long, I managed to get it done. 

The best thing to do is save your stuff online or on an external hard drive because they’re both small and easy to bring around with you when you need them (and they don’t die as easily). 

I recommend having both just in case flash drives break sometimes or if your computer breaks, you’ll still have something saved that you can work off of.

4. Pen/Pencil Case

Now, this is an item that you will not need at the first week of classes, but it’s definitely something you’ll want in your arsenal for later on in the semester. 

I would suggest getting one with a built-in calculator and some compartments for your pens and pencils. The case I’m using here can be found here. It cost $5.00 at Target and comes with six-month battery life (which means you only have to charge it once during the 6 months). 

If you don’t get this particular case, try to find one with similar features or just go to Staples or Office Max and find one there.

5. Planner

Now you might already have one because you’re the type of person who likes to keep everything in order. However, if you don’t have one (or just need a new one) I suggest getting one that’s somewhat small and has a built in calendar. 

A more expensive planner will probably have better features, but it shouldn’t be anything too special for this semester of classes.

6. Kindle

You should have at least 4 textbooks from your class that you’ll need to read throughout the semester, so get yourself an e-reader like the kindle. 

This will help out tremendously because they are much lighter than normal books and you can get almost any book on there. Also, try finding books used or look for them online because they cost significantly less online than at Barnes and Noble.

7. Laundry Bag/Hamper

I know that it might not seem like a necessity, but trust me, you’re going to want a place for all your dirty clothes to go so that they don’t rot in your room. 

This is especially true if you live on campus or are sharing an apartment with someone else; it gets really annoying when your roommate leaves their laundry out and doesn’t put it away (on top of the fact that they probably never do what you ask them to). 

Maybe consider getting one with wheels because then you’ll be able to haul around all of those shirts and pants without having to worry about carrying too much weight. If you have a lot of stuff then maybe get something larger with more wheels and compartments.

8. Ear Plugs

I put this at the top of the list because it’s something I never would have thought about but then was glad that I had them later on in the semester. All of your classes will be held in classrooms that are pretty small with a lot of people around you (especially if you’re taking an engineering class). 

This means that there will be tons of noise coming from all different directions during class, so it’s good to try and get some earplugs to block out all those noises. 

They don’t need to cost much because they’ll only last for one semester, just make sure you buy enough cause you’ll probably want to bring them everywhere (especially if there’s construction going on outside of your window).

9. Calculator

This is another item you won’t necessarily need at the beginning of the semester because most of your classes probably won’t require much math. Still, you’ll definitely want one later on in the semester especially if you’re taking Engineering or Math classes. 

There will be a ton of assignments and homework that involve using a calculator so when all else fails, make sure you have a calculator around to help out with these types of problems. 

If it seems like there’s just going to be too many graphing calculators for your class then maybe get something small like this. It should cost about $15-$20 from any store (probably cheaper from places like Staples or Office Max). 

This particular one is solar-powered which is more expensive, but since you’ll be using it every day it might be worth the price.

10. Flashlight/Lamp

This is a necessity for everyone in college because all of a sudden you won’t have enough light to study or read at night even if your room has a lamp or desk lamp. 

You’ll need something with a really bright light that will help you see what book you’re reading (or essay that you’re writing). 

Try and find one like this that’s small and lightweight; they usually cost about $15-$20, but some stores like Staples might have ones on sale so try those out first. If you want something that’s a little brighter, this one should do the trick.

11. Loose Leaf Paper/Notebook/Pen

You’re going to be writing lots of things down and making notes in your classes so make sure that you have some good paper for it. 

You should probably get loose leaf paper because it’ll give you more flexibility (and you can always go back and make corrections or change/write things down later on). 

Also, if you want a place to write your notes, then I recommend getting a small notebook that will fit in your backpack pocket. If you don’t have enough space for a notebook then at least get some loose-leaf paper so you’ll still have a place to write down what the professor is saying.

12. A Laptop

This isn’t completely necessary but it can definitely help you later on in your college career, so I recommend getting one second semester of freshman year or before then anyway. 

You can always use the computer labs to get work done if you don’t have a laptop, but more assignments and homework will require it (especially for engineering classes). 

It doesn’t need to be expensive because you probably won’t take care of it like you would a normal laptop, so just make sure that it’s big enough for everything and try finding one with a really bright screen because then the text will be easier to read when you’re outside in the sunlight or somewhere else where there isn’t much light around. 

It doesn’t need to have a lot of memory or anything like that either because they won’t load up quickly when it’s too slow, so just make sure you have enough space for your stuff and that should be good enough.

Final Thoughts

These are just my suggestions for some cheap but must-have engineering student essentials items that you’ll need in college. They will definitely come in handy later on when you’re trying to find your way around the campus, writing down notes from class, or spending countless hours studying and doing homework (like most of us do).

So please feel free to comment if you have any questions or stuff that you think should be on this list. I’ll probably add it if people seem interested in it and I might even make a second one since I have so many things floating around in my head at the moment.


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