Did you take any accounting classes in engineering school?

Curious if you took any accounting classes.... ACCT 101 and 102...as part of your engineering curriculum?
If yes.... why? Required? Just wanted to? etc?
And...was it worth doing even if not required?
What abt any other business classes such as Business Law?
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In my humble opinion, nobody should be allowed to graduate from an accredited engineering school UNLESS they have completed at least introductory courses in economics, law, accounting and perhaps most important, clear and concise technical writing. Over the length of a career, these subjects will likely prove more beneficial than all of the engineering courses taken combined.
Dave

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well kind of my feelings as well
but since I soon to be an engineering student didn't really know for sure
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Economics? Yes. Law? No. Accounting? No. Technical Writing? Yes.
Where I attended, decades ago, only technical writing was required.
I agree with the gent who said microeconomics is more useful to study than macroeconomics. There are - or were - various theories of macroeconomics when I was in school a generation ago. Keynesianism has fallen out of favor a lot since then. You can learn macroeconomic ideas by reading good publications. The more I learned about economics, the lower my regard fell for most politicians, who by-and-large & regardless of party, have an ends-justifies-the-means approach to economic policy making. Politicians' understanding of this subject hasn't advanced much over the decades. They still often promote bad policies.
I know very little much about contract or corporate law, but learned a lot about law while going through a difficult divorce, and by reading here and there. While the way the legal system operates seem arcane to many, there is a logic to the way it is set up and works. My guess is contract law would be quite good to learn.
Accounting? In `02, I read through a book on bookkeeping and it helped somewhat, but read what others say about the virtues of learning accounting (or lack thereof.)
Technical writing is helpful to learn and was a required subject for engineers where I enrolled roughly 3 decades ago. But you can learn a lot about good writing by osmosis through consistently reading well written material, such as N.Y. Times articles. In this age of digital technology, though, writing has become more and more a lost art.
In studying engineering courses, the important thing to do is to focus on mastering the important concepts more than the details.
That's my two cents worth.
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great info!!!
thanks so much!
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Part of my curriculum required that I take a course called Engineering Economy, but it was essentially a one-semester course in economics. I'm glad I took it, though, because I did learn a lot.
The most important thing I learned there was "depreciation" -- how the value of an item changes over time. For tax purposes, a company will often keep an item for several years, long after its actual useful life is over. From the accountant's point of view, that item is still on the books as an asset. Its book value goes down little by little each year, just like a car. After so many years, its book value is as low as it can possibly go, and that's when they'll sell it. That's why so many companies have storerooms chock full of junk. They hold on to it until they've squeezed as much $$$ as possible out of it.
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snipped-for-privacy@flash.net says...

Where? I had a good one at UIUC. I didn't expect it, but it was quite interesting and a lot of fun.

If they do that they're dumb. If they junk it before its time it can be written down as a loss, immediately. I had a year-old HP compliance spectrum analyzer with a set of antennas scrapped because it was worth real money (and the job ended). I had a good home for it at another site but they would have had to do a capital justification to pick up the depreciation.
--
Keith

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krw wrote:

They aren't dumb - they are bean-counters. Here's one way it works:
You buy a bit of kit that costs 20k for a project. You know that it is in an area where technology is changing fast and that, in 3 years time it will be worthless. The bean-counter says that, if it cost 20k, it can't possibly be written off in 3 years, so will insist on depreciating it to zero after, say 5.
Three years later you have a bit of kit that has been superceded by something newer and better. It can't be scrapped/sold at less than its (unrealistic) asset book value. So it simply has to stay in the store until the 5 years are up, at which point it can be scrapped.
The reason the bean counters won't depreciate it to zero over 3 years are many. The first is that the government tax people will spot something very expensive being depreciated very quickly and suspect a tax dodge. The bean counters don't like to give the revenuers reason to be suspicious and to look closely at other things...Next, the assets, at their current book value, can be used to offset debt before the remainder is compared to the equity capital. That gearing can really have teeth and bite..
Finally, on open days, if you have such things, having a few bits of expensive looking kit to impress the non-engineer visitors is essential. All the good stuff has been put away, so little fingers won't break it or big tea-leaves won't half-inch it..
--
Sue








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@privacy.net says...

That may be the way it is in Yourup, but it's not the way it works in the US. A widget may be written down on a five-year schedule, but if it's scrapped or lost the remainder is taken as a loss in the year it happens.

Not true (at least in the US). Scrap it and claim its value as a loss.

The schedule may say five years, but if it's scrapped the book value is a loss. It had better be scrapped though.

I've found that non-techies aren't impressed by techie things at all.
--
Keith

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ha
interesting phenomena huh?!
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wrote:

I forget the psychological term, but we all tend to have it. We minimize the importance of things we aren't good at and don't understand. Just like I forgot the terms in psych class *years* ago... :-)
daestrom
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Boy aint THAT the truth
Last place I worked had all kinds of ancient machinery laying around.... unused
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wrote:

The only justification for keeping "ancient machinery" laying about is in the hope that circumstances might make it useful and valuable.
If it hasn't been depreciated to zero, they can sell it for a loss and get an offset on profits. (Of course, companies that don't have profits ....) If it has been depreciated to zero then they have to decide if the "salvage" value is greater than the utility to the company.
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wrote:

Can carry such a loss forward on the books for a future year when they do :-)

When equipment is 'salvaged' (turned in for resale or scrap), any *difference* between what they get for it and the 'book value' has to be claimed as profit/loss that year. So holding onto something until the 'book value' is zero just means you've wasted some storage space for a few years (how much do you pay per square foot on your lease??).
One thing the tax man *does* look for, is if you 'salvage' some equipment to employees or relatives and the 'buyer' pays very little. The company tries to take it as a big loss ('salvage' below 'book') and the employee got a great deal. The tax man may look on this as a form of 'compensation' (an employee fringe benefit) and claim that the difference between what the employee paid and what some independent assessor says it's worth is unreported 'income' on the part of the employee. And the company would only be able to use the assessor value for the 'salvage', not the actual money received. So don't 'give' stuff to your employees just because you're a nice guy and bought all new equipment for the office.
Saving a lot of old equipment because it's obsolete is never really necessary. If you can't get 'book value' for it, then you just take a 'loss' of the difference between 'book value' and 'salvaged value'. Taking a book 'loss' in the current year is almost always preferable to spreading out depreciation over several future years. If you hold onto it until the book is zero, then sell it for scrap metal, the check from the scrap metal dealer is 'income' and has to be reported anyway.
Some companies will take certain items that they can't sell for 'book value' and donate them to charity (such as old PC's). They get to claim the 'book value' as a charitable deduction even if they could never get that much on the open market (I believe). But charitable donations have limits, so sometimes they can't. Similar with big companies that give away prizes on game shows. They claim the MSRP price, not the cost of manufacturing, as an 'advertising cost' right off the top as an expense.
As far as the depreciation schedule, most of that is set by the tax code. IIRC, buildings are something like 40 years, autos are 7, computers are 5, office furniture is 7 years, machinery something like 12, etc... But even so, there are different 'schedules' that can be used, 'straight-line' (perhaps the easiest to understand), 'sum-of-the-digits' (an old technique that was easy for accountants to calculate without computers), and 'accelerated' are the most common.
For items that lose value fast (we all know a car driven off the dealer lot loses a lot of value immediately), accelerated forms of depreciation are common and allowed. The idea of course is that the 'book value' reflect the true price you could get for selling the stuff. But the tax code is slow to change with the times and computers are a notable exception to the depreciation schedules.
daestrom P.S. I'm not an accountant, but run your own business for ten or fifteen years and you get to learn all sorts of tax/ accounting things (and law too, unfortunately).

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One of the companies I had worked for gave me a course in economics. It was different from the college courses I took in that it concentrated on the concepts of "internal rate of return," "present value of a future sum," and stuff like that.
Worthwhile if it includes the above. Learning that stuff let me "skate" through my PE exam. I think the questions on "Industrial Engineering" used that stuff.
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Let's see, that's going back a bit.
Macro- and Micro- economics. Found the micro- interesting but zoned out in 'macro' when they started talking about 'money supply'. The micro helps understand the economics of generating power (or any other engineering project). Ask yourself which is better, a high capital cost up front, or a lower up front cost and higher operating costs. There is not 'correct' answer without knowing a lot more information. And a good economics course can help you figure out what information you need to answer a question like that.
One law course required so it was labor law. Can't tell you an exact instance, but knowing what the NLRB is and what anti-trust law is has helped a few times over the years.
But I just *have* to second 'Dave' in his opinion about technical writing. Yes, basic grammer *is* important. And if you can't organize your thoughts into a cohesive paper on a subject, how can anyone expect your engineering to be more organized? A clear, well organized project plan, white paper, justification, failure analysis, even just resume are so important I'd recommend taking more than the minimum English composition or writing course.
daestrom
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good example
but what info is needed as well?
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wrote:

Well, that's what the economics or 'business finance' course will teach you.
For that example, some of the things that come to mind...
What's the 'opportunity cost' of that capital? Would you be better off just taking the money and investing in something else?
What's the predicted annual savings in operating costs over the other option? Does this option have some other cost not associated with the other option? (specialized maintenance?, different input material requirements?, regulatory issues?)
How long will it operate with the lower operating costs? Will it last as long or longer than the other option?
Will the end-of-life salvage value of this option be any different than the other option?
What's your projected interest rate (cost of money) over those years of operation?
Can you depreciate the high capital costs with an accelerated schedule? How will these tax savings be used, will you carry the 'losses' forward or will there be other 'income' that can be offset with it?
How do you propose to finance (bonds that won't come due for some number of years giving you time to get operating and start to develop some income? dedicated loan with lein/ mortgage? short-term loan?) Cash flow analysis of each? You can't spend money you don't have and until you start having some income, where are you getting cash from?
What are the risks? Inflation risk (you guessed wrong on future interest rates)? Market risk (your product doesn't sell because others entered market or public whim)? Technological risk (your product is suddenly replaced in the market [ala vinyl records or buggy whips])?
daestrom
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