Financial Acumen for the Engineer

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Course Overview

The knowledge and skill gained from this course will enable you to perform more effectively at a personal level and to contribute to the financial success of your organization.

At the organizational level, you will learn what drives value in your organization and how you can participate in value creation, whether you are functioning as a project proponent, project reviewer or in a development or advisory role. In this session, you will also learn:

  • How to interpret key financial statements from the perspective of various users
  • How your firm determines its cost of capital to help you to appreciate the metrics applied to project evaluation
  • How to allocate capital prudently using principles of life-cycle costing and capital expenditure analysis
  • How you may impact cash flow and working capital and how operating decisions are linked to financial outcomes  

At the personal/project level, you will learn how to develop flexible budgets and break-even analyses for planning and management. Specific skills include:

  • Evaluating financial returns on projects using multiple financial metrics including: discounted cash flow, internal rate of return, and payback methods
  • Developing financial models of your programs and projects and applying sensitivity analysis to these models to determine optimum project risks and optimum configurations
  • Communicating financial information to your stakeholders

Who Should Attend?

  • Project and program leaders who must do a better job of building and defending their budgets
  • Engineering and technical managers who need to evaluate project budgets and instruct others in building and presenting them correctly
  • Design, operations and management professionals who need to understand how finance works in their organizations

Additional Information

Course features

This course combines a lecture, workshop, and discussion. It is based on real-world case studies, including information that you bring to the course. The instructor will provide you with financial models in the form of spreadsheet templates that you may take home to use with your organization.

This course is part of the Technical Leadership Certificate. Course may be taken individually as well.

Course Outline

Day 1

Introduction to Financial Statements and Concepts

  • Varying formats for multiple users
  • Earning your cost of capital
  • Balance sheet
  • Ratios
  • Income statement
  • Statement of cash flows         

Cost Accounting – Analysis and Management

  • Management / cost information
  • Absorption costing
  • Fixed and variable costs
  • Contribution reporting
  • Flexible planning and analysis
  • Cost / volume / profit
  • Sensitivity analysis


Day 2

Capital Investment Analysis

  • Capital expenditures
  • Decision making financial criteria
  • Payback
  • Time value of money
  • Net present value (NPV)
  • Valuation
  • Internal rate of return (IRR)

Life Cycle Costing

  • Life cycle costing
  • Requirements for federal projects
  • Resources
  • Life cycle cost analysis (LCCA)
  • Key steps
  • Example

Interest Tables and Contribution Analysis, and Case Studies

  • Present value interest tables
  • Present value of an ordinary annuity
  • Future value interest table
  • Case studies
    • WINSTICK product line
    • Big G companies
  • Capital budgeting model template
  • Case studies
    • Paper mate
    • ZIM new product


"I liked all the real-life examples provided—to better understand my staff meetings, and I'll be able to justify projects."
—Juan, Director of Engineering, Olsun Electrics, Richmond, Illinois; June 2019

"Case studies and worksheets were great for information retention and reinforcing content."
—Kent, Project Engineer, Tri-State G&T, Westminster, Colorado; November 2018

"As I move into a PM role, I will be required to know more of this. Now I have an advantage going in."
—Adinda, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., Hutchinson, Minnesota; October 2019

"I learned a lot of valuable information and have a much better overall picture of the finance/accounting of a company."
—Kyle, Engineering Supervisor, Heartland Business Systems, West Des Moines, Iowa; November 2018

"Great teacher, kept my focus and attention. Very impressed at how he researched our companies in advance."
—Michael, Civil Engineer, Edge Consulting Engineers, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin; June 2018

"Very good introductory course into finance. It touched on many things we used."
—Drew, Maintenance Engineering Manager, Gelita, USA, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa; October 2017

"Gave me a good overview of the materials for decision making—the instructor, slides, and spreadsheets provided were great."
—Craig, Kunkel Engineering Group, Naples, Florida; October 2019

"The course information was helpful in removing the mystery or the terminology and methodology of finance and accounting."
—Geoff, Public Works Director, Village of Howard, Green Bay, Wisconsin; May 2017



Charles Krueger

An award-winning speaker, Krueger is well known for his ability to teach financial and non-financial managers how to use financial information to stimulate effective decision-making. He also helps managers utilize financial information in directing profit centers, implementing innovative cost management techniques and relating operations to strategic objectives. In his teaching, he uses models and simulations to help students develop a detailed understanding of financial concepts. Krueger has broad experience in industry, government and the non-profit sector, and his professional work relates especially well to engineers. His article on “Controlling Construction Costs,” received an award from The Institute of Management Accountants.

Mark Malkin

Mark P. Malkin, PE is a Program Director in the UW–Madison Department of Engineering Professional Development (EPD). He is a registered Professional Engineer with over 25 years of combined experience in university construction project management and HVAC systems design. His course offerings in the Facilities segment of EPD include HVAC and plumbing fundamentals, building and property maintenance code review, and design and operation of science labs, data centers, museums and libraries. Mark received his bachelor's in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University, and his master's in Mechanical Engineering from UW–Madison.

Upcoming dates (0)

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Mark Malkin


Create a custom learning experience

We can deliver this course as an on-site learning experience tailored to your organization’s specific training needs.