If you host the office copy of the database with FileMaker Pro, you are limited to 9 client machines linking to it at one time. You also give up some nice database management features and improved data security, but it's also much less expensive, so the choice is up to you.
Make sure the netbooks meet the minimum requirements for FileMaker Pro. There's a Knowledgebase article you can look up that lists the minimum hardware requirements.
If the engineers are just collecting new data--not modifying existing data, this can be set up pretty simply. The filemaker file on the netbook can link to the hosted file via an external data source reference. Then clicking a button on it can run a script that uses Perform Script to run a script located in the hosted file. That script on the hosted file can use Import Records to pull a copy of the data from the netbook file into hosted file in your office. You will need to set up your internet router with port forwarding in order for this to work. That's subject you may want to research here before you move forward.