Teaching Accounting to Engineers

Engineers are ‘quanti’ people. Commerce and Arts graduates are ‘quali’ people. This has always been a ‘stereotypical’ argument among business school educators. Quantitative versus Qualitative. Maths versus Rhetoric. Number crunching versus Wordplay. The list is long.

Accounting is somewhat crazy. It comes from ‘commerce’ but deals with numbers. This is one area of numbers where engineers feel they don’t ‘belong’. So here are some adventures of a fellow who attempts to help engineers learn fundamentals of accounting. At the end of this task, he is sure, he will end-up gaining new and exciting experiences like every year. His job is taking vivacious arguments forward and making the newcomers believe that they need working knowledge of accounting to eventually become good decision makers. His job is to make words like Debit, Credit, Assets, Liabilities, Prepaid Expenses and Accrued Income sound less painful. His job is comfort an engineer who looks at the exhibits of a case (Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement and Cash Flow Statement) and feels like tearing away those extra pages attached to an otherwise wonderful case. His job is to give them confidence to smile while looking at an annual report of a company. His job is to ensure engineers don’t forget the child inside them, which normally is outside them in other classes! He loves this challenge but he wants them to love it too. 

Mental block for accounting has been a critical area of concern for MBA students since Mahabharata (ages). MBA classes are full of engineers (70-80%) and the minority community called commerce ka background needs to be handled with care. People who have studied accounting for B.Com or CA courses show considerable strength in their voice and often end-up hijacking the discussions in class. Their body language gets bold and they start looking attractive right in trimester one of this two year l_o_n_g journey called MBA. Engineers come with a secret weapon called Last Day Vision (not revision!). They acquire this talent of procrastination over four years of their degree. Then that 2 year stint with an IT company makes them skilled in asking thought provoking questions. To support this is unmatched curiosity to learn-unlearn-relearn new concepts. Some have aspirations in their heart and dreams in their eyes to contribute new dimensions and extend the body of knowledge with the help of their creative thinking. The fellow reminds them to take notes, to do calculations on paper and then react to his points but the engineers believe in Shakuntala Devi methods of accounting using mental (vedic and nomadic maths). All this becomes amazingly interesting when one of them wants answer to an unrelated question like why does a company issue shares using an IPO! When asked about the source of his curiosity, he says, “Sir I read it in CFA material borrowed from a senior last night. I am targeting I-banking as my career. I want to take-up finance. I want to take-up finance. I want to take-up finance. Swaahaa!” In couple of weeks time this I-banker will be found sleeping tightly in a banking course with both eyes tightly shut. 

Engineers understand equations and so the fellow starts his class by writing an equation on board; Assets = Capital + Liability! And like an eager teenager waiting to see two blue lines on whatsapp sent to his first crush, engineers feel elated. 

Bhai, Apne biradri ka subject lagta hai. Kar lenge!


Author: anilkshatriyablog

I work as Assistant Professor in the area of Accounting at IMT Nagpur. I love teaching, writing and cycling. I follow a simple principle, 'Help ever, hurt never'.

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