Accounting, School of Business

A hands-on class activity to support a good cause, conducted outside in summer-like weather: sounds like a win-win-win.

Prof. Travis Brodbeck ’17 G’18 teaches Cost Accounting and wanted to backup business theory with a project to help the community. To that end, he organized an effort to create no-sew fleece blankets for the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society to teach students about production processes and related accounting principles in tracking costs. 

The class took advantage of Wednesday’s sunshine to set up a collaborative assembly line in front of Standish Library to manufacture as many blankets as possible within the allotted class period. 

“The goal was to produce as many finished items as possible while minimizing the cost of labor, materials, and factory overhead,” said Brodbeck. “As the students worked on the various stages of producing a blanket, they recognized that there was a cause-and-effect relationship between each department.” 

He explained that a bottleneck in the preparation department meant the cutting and finishing departments would sit idle and accumulate the cost of labor without producing any items.  The students would have to solve that by looking around their factory and communicating across departments to identify shortages and surpluses in the production cycle.  When necessary, they reallocated the number of workers in each department to achieve their goals.  

The data collected by the class will be incorporated into an Excel project starting next week to apply to course concepts in developing cost reports for management.

The activity was co-sponsored and funded by Siena’s Office of Academic Community Engagement. Brodbeck will be writing a teaching article on this activity for an accounting instruction academic journal. 

“I thought it was a great way for our class to be able to work together in a real-life situation that reflected problems that we work on together in class. Having the ability to do a real-life accounting problem, while also helping animals, was a great way to further our learning while also doing something to help others. I am so glad that Professor Brodbeck brought it to life!”

Maribella Gaetani ’24

“I think community-engaged activities are important for students since it gives more awareness to issues in our society and allows us to learn and grow more. Participating in this project made me feel closer to my community as well as my fellow Siena students.”

Helen Garrity ’24 

“Being able to look at it and know that they are real world numbers that we produced makes it a different experience you can’t get it many other classes. It not only benefits our education, but it helps the community by being able to provide the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society with blankets for their animals.”

Matthew Garner ’23