I'm not exactly in C.Eng but I'm in 3rd year of EE. I have friend in C.Eng and the first 2 years will be ''almost'' identical.
Like someone said earlier I don't think you need the most poweful laptop. I've been using an old Thinkpad 600E (400 Mghz) and it worked out pretty well. Xilinx ISE is gonna run a bit slow but its still does the job.
Recently I just bought a Thinkpad X60s. What I wanted was:
2- Battery life
3- Screen quality
As a student, I wanted to bring my laptop everywhere. It's a very personal choice but 14'' for me was just too big to carry around. I usually have a minimum of 2 binder along with 2 books. Some people may not be bothered by that but, I can't see myself going aroudn with a bigger laptop than 13''. Also, I found out that 1 pound makes a big difference!
Since I spent most of my time in school and wanted my backpack to be lightest as possible battery life was very important for me. With the X60s 8 cell battery I can easily get 6-7 hours depending on the setting.
I usually work very long hours on the computer and I personally find glare screen too reflective. It was important for me to get a matte screen. Some people say 12'' is too small to work for long hours but I find it very effective.
I find the Thinkpad X60s to be a perfect Notebook. It has everything I wanted. Hope I helped you!