Almost all universities use MATLAB to teach beginning programming, as does AC. We do not currently have a discount program. If you want to do MATLAB type work at home but cannot afford it you should check on these programs. Most of these programs were not started as "clones" of MATLAB. Some were started at roughly the same time as MATLAB but had very limited distribution for many years, and now that they are being widely distributed most people view them as newcomers or clones.
Office Suites contain a group of applications likely to see use in many office environments. They typically have a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation editor/presenter, drawing tools, and/or a database. Many commercial examples are available such as Microsoft Office, WordPerfect Office,and IBM Lotus SmartSuite.
Almost EVERYONE needs an office suite, but not everyone can afford the price of the typical commercial version. Check out these FREE office suites.
Some may not want an entire suite or may wish to mix and match.
Several free Word Processors are available, such as:
While less common, there are some free spreadsheets such as:
Computer Algebra Systems are extremely powerful software with a deceptively understated category name. Most are capable of not only working ordinary algebra problems but of SYMBOLICALLY solving differential equations, integrating various difficult equations, and so much more. While MOST practicing engineers will not use them often after leaving school, some will use them their whole careers.
Free CAS are available, too. They include MAXIMA, AXIOM, and XCAS. There are many others. Failure to mention them is not intended as a criticism or judgement of relative value. For further links and more information, see the Wikipedia article "Comparison of Computer Algebra Systems".
MathCAD is the most frequently encountered commercial "scratchpad" (Available at a MAJOR Discount in Bookstore).
A surprisingly good free alternative is SMath Studio. It can be had for Windows (desktop or portable) Linux or some handheld devices,
CAD, or Computer Aided Design, has, along with Finite Element Analysis (FEA), dramatically changed the design process in the last forty years.
There are many commercial CAD programs available, such as AutoCAD, Pro-E, Solid-Works, Solid-Edge, and Inventor. Most students will not need any capabilities beyond those available in free programs, some of which are listed below. Also, academic versions of Autodesk products are available for free download by students and faculty.