Architecture Personal Computing Guidelines

content last updated 5-19-2020

To succeed and thrive, Architecture and Community Design (ARCD) students must be agile and mobile, equipped and prepared to create, edit, present, and collaborate on digital work in a variety of locations both on and off campus.


As of their sophomore year, ARCD students are strongly encouraged to own and maintain a robust personal laptop equipped with the software they will need to excel in their coursework and effectively engage with their peers, instructors, and community partners.

A responsible ARCD student keeps their laptop in good working order by...

  • taking measures to protect it from damage and theft.
  • regularly backing up their files.
  • routinely deleting files they no longer need.
  • only installing software from reputable sources.
  • uninstalling applications that they no longer use.
  • installing antivirus software and keeping it up to date.
  • regularly installing application updates.
  • regularly installing Mac and Windows system and security updates.


The ARCD program formally introduces students to industry-standard software in these elective courses:

Course Recommended Semester Software
CADD 1 2nd Year, Fall Semester AutoCAD
Adobe Creative Cloud
SketchUp Pro
V-Ray for SketchUp
Enscape for SketchUp and Rhino
CADD 2 2nd Year, Spring Semester ArcGIS
BIM and Applications 3rd Year, Fall Semester Revit
Enscape for Revit

Technically, these courses are electives, but since some required ARCD courses expect students to utilize this software, industrious students will take the initiative to familiarize themselves with these applications whether or not they enroll in these courses.


All USF students have free access to LinkedIn Learning, a software training website that offers self-paced, online training in all of these applications. Access LinkedIn Learning through myUSF »

The ARCD program highly encourages students to take advantage of their access to LinkedIn Learning to begin learning AutoCAD and SketchUp (either the Free or Pro version) during the summer prior to their 2nd year.

Getting Software

All of the software an ARCD student needs is available for free or at a discount:

Title Runs on
a Mac
Runs on
a PC
Source Student
Price *
Microsoft Windows 1 Y ITS eStore Free Subscription (requires yearly renewal of student status)
Boot Camp Assistant Y n/a pre-installed on every Mac Free Perpetual
AutoCAD Y Y Autodesk Free Subscription (requires yearly renewal of student status)
Revit 2 Y Autodesk Free Subscription (requires yearly renewal of student status)
ArcGIS 2 Y USF Environmental Sciences Department: Free Subscription (requires yearly renewal of student status)
SketchUp Free 3 3 SketchUp Free Perpetual
SketchUp Pro Y Y Creation Engine $55 / year Subscription (requires yearly renewal of student status)
V-Ray for SketchUp Pro Y Y Creation Engine $99 / year Subscription (requires yearly renewal of student status)
Adobe Creative Cloud
(includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign)
Y Y Adobe $20 / month for the first year then $30 / month thereafter (1-year contract required) Subscription (requires yearly renewal of student status)
Rhino Y Y Rhinoceros $195 new / $95 upgrade Perpetual for purchased version; upgrade purchase required for new versions
Enscape (for SketchUp, Rhino, and Revit) 2 Y Enscape Free Subscription (requires renewal of student status every 6 months)
Sophos Home (anti-virus software) Y Y Sophos Free Perpetual

* prices last updated March 2019
using Boot Camp Assistant
after installing Windows using Boot Camp Assistant
runs in a web browser


Some software requires Microsoft Windows to install and use it. If you own a Mac, you can install Windows on it using Boot Camp Assistant, an application that's pre-installed on every Mac. Click here for Apple’s complete instructions, but heed this additional advice before proceeding:

advisories when downloading windows

When downloading Windows from the ITS eStore:

  • If you’re on campus, always use the "USF-Wireless" network. It's significantly faster than the “USF-Visitors” network.
  • If given a choice, select the “64-bit” version of Windows, not the “32-bit” version.
  • Do not download any version of Windows labeled as a "Debug/Checked Build."
  • Print your Product Key rather than write it down. It’s a long sequence of letters and numbers that you must enter exactly while installing Windows.


If your Mac is relatively new (2015 or newer) with a recent version of macOS installed (10.11 "El Capitan" or newer), you probably don't need a flash drive to complete the installation.

You will need a blank USB flash drive that’s at least 8 GB in size if EITHER your Mac model* is older than any of the models in this list OR if your Mac model* is in this list and you have an older version of macOS (10.10 "Yosemite" or earlier) installed:

  • MacBook Pro (2015 and later)
  • MacBook Air (2015 and later)
  • MacBook (2015 and later)
  • iMac (2015 and later)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)

* To see what model Mac you have, click the Apple  icon in the top left corner of your screen and select "About This Mac."

Heads up! If Boot Camp Assistant requires you to use a flash drive, pay very close attention to step 4 in Apple's instructions. It's probably the most overlooked step.


Back up your files to a personal storage device before installing Windows using Boot Camp Assistant.


Decide in advance how big you’d like your “Boot Camp partition” to be. Boot Camp Assistant will "split" your Mac’s hard drive into two "partitions", one for Mac and one for Windows. The Windows partition will be called your "Boot Camp partition". If you only plan to use Windows for one or two applications and little else, you can make it as small as 60 GB. If you’ll use Windows for a lot more, you might devote half of your drive to Windows and half to Mac. It’s up to you.


Make sure you have enough free disk space on your Mac’s hard drive. At a minimum, your free space should total your Boot Camp partition size plus 20 GB. For example, if you decide to set your Boot Camp partition size to 60 GB, you should confirm that you have at least 60 GB + 20 GB = 80 GB of free disk space on your Mac. Here’s how to find out how much free disk space you have:

  1. Switch to the Finder. (Click on the Finder icon in your Dock or click anywhere on your Desktop.)
  2. Select Go ➔ Computer.
  3. Click once on the icon for your computer's hard drive. Select File ➔ Get Info.
  4. In the window that appears, look at the number next to "Available:". This is your free disk space.


It takes time to download Windows and then install it using Boot Camp Assistant. Set aside at least a couple of hours to complete the process uninterrupted.


USF Information Technology Services (ITS) recommends the free anti-virus software, Sophos Home, for student's personal computers. Click here while running Windows to register and download the installer.


Mac or PC

This is strictly a personal preference. If you purchase a Mac, you can install Microsoft Windows on it using "Boot Camp Assistant" in order to run both Mac and Windows software.

Screen Size

The bigger the screen, the larger and heavier the laptop will be (and the more expensive), but the easier it will be to work in programs like AutoCAD and Revit. This is really a personal preference. Some people don't mind a small screen. Others might like a small screen for portability reasons, but connect their laptop to a large, external display on their desk at home.


Invest in a minimum of 8 GB of memory, but go for 16 GB of memory if you can.

Internal Storage

If you can afford it, try to get a "solid state drive" or SSD. It makes for a much speedier and responsive laptop. You should also try to get a drive that's at least 256 GB in size. If you can afford it, shoot for 500 GB or more.

Graphics Processor

If it's within your means, get a laptop with an advanced graphics processor unit or "GPU". A lot of laptops have less powerful, "on board" GPUs, while others have more powerful, separate or "discrete" GPUs. Some laptops even have both types of GPUs installed, i.e. a less powerful one for when you're on battery power and a more powerful one for when you're plugged in.


ITS Help Desk

The ITS Help Desk can help you troubleshoot technical problems with your personal laptop, including but not limited to questions concerning the ITS eStore, the USF-Wireless network, myUSF, USF email and Google Drive, Sophos Anti-Virus, and Pharos printing. Click here for ITS Help Desk hours and locations.

Steve Rhyne – Director of Art + Architecture Technology

Steve is happy to offer advice and guidance when it comes to keeping your personal computer in good working order, backing it up, and installing the ARCD software you need. Make an appointment to meet him in his office or in a classroom during business hours, 9am–5pm, Monday–Friday, or try dropping by without an appointment during off-peak business hours, roughly 11am–3pm, Monday–Friday. (Steve's contact information is in a box in the top, right portion of this webpage.)