Teaching and Learning Services - Leverage Your Laptop

Leverage Your Laptop

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Getting Started

Computing Basics

Students in the College of Engineering (CoE) will use two main computing services at UW-Madison:


DoIT is campus-wide service that maintains most computing applications at UW-Madison, including the MyUW system and wireless internet, among others. DoIT also manages NetIDs, which grant you access to many of the portal-type programs on the Wisc system.


CAE accounts are available only to CoE students and faculty. These accounts provide numerous CoE computing services, including access to engineering software, 300 pages of free printing each semester, and hundreds of Windows and Linux desktop computers. Because CAE accounts are restricted to users within CoE, they use a different login system than the NetID.

The major differences between DoIT and CAE are highlighted in the table below.

Who is eligible? CoE students and faculty,
must be enrolled in at least one CoE class
All UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff
What login account is needed for services? CAE account NetID
Use this account for ...
Contact Information 608-262-5349,
1410 Engineering Drive

DoIT has compiled a list of six steps here new students should take to set up their campus computing.

Activating Your Campus NetID

Activating your NetID is the first step for computing at UW-Madison. Click here to activate. Note that you will need your 10-digit campus ID number. If you encounter any problems, step by step instructions can be found here.

Activating Your CAE Account

To activate your CAE account go to the CAE Home Page and click on "Activate Your Account" link on the left of the page. You will need to know your UW ID number, your net ID and password and your date of birth. Users are able to choose their login name from a short list (it doesn't have to be the same as their NetID) and password. See Choosing a Password and the CAE password guidelines for help in selecting a secure password.

CAE accounts are available to all students enrolled in an engineering course or employed by the college. Most freshmen will be helped to set up their accounts in Introduction to Engineering (InterEGR 101) or an Engineering Professional Development (EPD) course.

Connecting to the Internet

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Logging into Campus Wireless

Outside of the residence halls, wireless internet is managed by DoIT. Currently, over 80% of all campus buildings-including all buildings on the engineering campus-have wireless internet service. Your NetID is required to log in to campus wireless services.

Logging into Wireless in the Dorms

Internet in student housing is managed by the Residential Network (ResNet) of the Department of University Housing. Wireless connections are available in most residential hall dens and common areas, and Ethernet connections are available in individual rooms. See the Internet Access page for information on the ResNet Wired and wireless coverage. Your NetID is required to log in to ResNet internet services.


Some computing applications-including CAE remote desktop access (see link below)-are not accessible using commercial internet providers, such as Charter. To gain access to these applications when computing off campus, users can utilize a virtual private network, or VPN. DoIT provides a free VPN, called WiscVPN, that can be downloaded here. Once installed, users can follow these instructions to run WiscVPN and access the limited applications.

MyUW Screen


The MyUW portal allows users to personalize their computing experience at UW-Madison. MyUW applications include WiscMail, WiscCal, My WebSpace, academic resources, financial aid information, work records, just to name a few (see links below).

Student Center

The Student Center, accessible through MyUW, is an extremely important program for all UW-Madison students. In the Student Center, students can register for classes, see grades, pay tuition, monitor financial aid, order transcripts, and take care of other important business.


In addition to granting access to hundreds of computing applications, your NetID is also your campus email address in the form of NetID@wisc.edu. The WiscMail server provides 200 MB of space for messages and attachments. WiscMail accounts can easily be coordinated with other mail programs, including Gmail, MS Outlook, and Mac WebMail.

My Webspace

My WebSpace is an incredibly powerful online storage space on which you can organize and share computer files. It is especially useful for accessing files from different computers and locations, and for allowing multiple parties access to files, for instance in a group project setting. My WebSpace can be accessed through MyUW.


WiscCal is an online agenda that can help you organize your schedule. Some major benefits of WiscCal include the ability to share calendars with other users, the ability to arrange meetings with others online, and the capability of coordinating it with a handheld device.

Learning technology

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Engineering Courses on the Web 2 (eCOW2) is an online course management system based on open-source program called Moodle. Many instructors in the College of Engineering will use eCOW2 to enhance their courses with technology. Some may use online quizzes or assignments on their eCOW2 sites, others may post lecture materials or use forums. Some frequently asked questions about the Moodle software can be found here. For more personalized help, please contact the eCOW2 support team at (608)265-1178 or ecow2@engr.wisc.edu.


Learn@UW is like eCOW2 in that it is an online course management system. However, Learn@UW is based off of a program called Desire2Learn, and Learn@UW is used at departments all across campus, rather than just at engineering. For students, many of the features offered by Learn@UW are similar to those of eCOW2. For help, you may contact the DoIT help at (608)264-HELP, or online.

CAE services

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Remote Access

Virtually all computing done on a CAE account can be done on your laptop. CAE offers a variety of remote options that allow you to access files, print to CAE printers, and use engineering software. If not on the UW-Madison network, off campus, you will first need to run WiscVPN for these to work for you.


One of the most popular benefits of a CAE account is free printing. Each semester, every student has 300 free pages from CAE printers. Additionally, students can access and use these printers directly from their laptops. Follow the Printing Using CAE-Print instructions to configure CAE printers on a Windows and a Mac laptop. If you are using you full quota of pages, be sure to monitor how many pages you have remaining.

File Access

Browser file access You are able to access your CAE files through a web browser from anywhere. Follow these directions for a web based Remote Access to Your CAE Filespace.

Direct file access You will want use your network files while working on your laptop. You are able to map to your CAE network diskpace from your laptop. For Windows see Mapping Your Network 'I' Drive. (This is for Windows files as well Linux users.). For Mac see the Access Disk Space Mac OSX article.


You may want to access your CAE desktop from your laptop to work with CAE software or to use files saved to your account. See Remote Access to CAE Applications for full instructions on remote desktop access, Also available for for Mac.

Tethered software

Many of the powerful programs used for engineering can be accessed on your laptop using CAE's tethered software. These instructions will get you started on using the software on your personal computer.

Other useful technologies

UW-Madison Google Apps

Education enhancing technology doesn't stop at UW-Madison. There are infinite online resources that can help you organize your class materials and improve your learning experience. Some the most popular tools are Google Apps. Google Docs are a great way to create documents that can be viewed and edited by multiple users in multiple locations. Additionally, the documents are stored online so that they can be accessed from any computer in the world with internet access. Google Groups is another resource that may prove useful when working with a team. Groups allow users to post files, collaborate on documents, and communicate through forums all in one workspace.

Campus IT Guidelines

The campus has also developed some guidelines for use of non-UW-Madison applications such as Google Apps, YouTube, Doodle, etc. These guidelines provide issues to consider when planning to use these applications. The guidelines for instruction is available at http://www.cio.wisc.edu/policies/Non-UWAppsServicesInstruction.doc. Also see other campus IT policies