Engineering Economics is a required course and required for accreditation in most engineering colleges in Canada, the United States, and many other countries.
Open textbooks are textbooks that are licensed under an open copyright license and reside in the public domain. These resources are made available for free to students, instructors, and the general public – essentially anyone can access these resources for free. Engineering Economics textbooks from major publishers typically cost students $200 or more to purchase new.
The University of Saskatchewan had undertaken a review of their Engineering Economics course; evaluating the method of teaching, the topics covered in the course, and the education resources available. The review highlighted additional topics that should be covered in the course and corresponding gaps in available textbook resources.
An opportunity to create an open textbook for the course was pursued to provide a resource to students that was not available. This open textbook focuses on engineering problems and particularly on topics and cases relevant to Canadian Engineers, the Canadian tax system, and includes some topics not typically covered in traditional engineering economics textbooks such as budgeting, cost estimation, and the determination of product costs using principles from management accounting.
One of the most beneficial aspects of open textbooks is that others may use the book and modify it for their particular interest or application. In this textbook few sections, mainly related to taxes, would have to be adapted to a particular country to make the textbook applicable to other regions of the world.
To facilitate the development of the open textbook, funding was made available to the project that allowed the primary authors to hire two undergraduate students and one graduate student to help in the development of the textbook. These students had previously taken the engineering economics course or were in a graduate program related to economics. This strategy was extremely beneficial to both the instructors as primary authors and the students as contributors.
For the student contributors, their work on the open textbook allowed them to more fully understand the course concepts and apply them to examples and cases for the textbook. For the primary authors this work arrangement reduced their workload and provided feedback related to clarity of the explanations and example problems used in the textbook.
The results of this work are an open textbook written for the Canadian context, though easily adapted for other regions, that is available to anyone for free. The textbook was written in simple, clear language; avoiding complicated terminology and financial jargon as much as possible. This writing style was chosen so that the textbook would be accessible to a wide range of readers.
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