Project Valuation and the Capital Budgeting Process


This course describes the economic viability of an engineering project through the application of net present value, internal rate of return, and payback period analysis. The impacts of depreciation, taxes, inflation, and foreign exchange are addressed. The capital budgeting process is discussed, showing how companies make decisions to optimize their investment portfolio. Risk is mitigated through the application of quantitative techniques such as scenario analysis, sensitivity analysis, and real options analysis.

This course can be taken for academic credit as part of CU Boulder’s Master of Engineering in Engineering Management (ME-EM) degree offered on the Coursera platform. The ME-EM is designed to help engineers, scientists, and technical professionals move into leadership and management roles in the engineering and technical sectors. With performance-based admissions and no application process, the ME-EM is ideal for individuals with a broad range of undergraduate education and/or professional experience. Learn more about the ME-EM program at

What you will learn

Complex Cash Flow Analysis

Considers more complex cash flow scenarios involving multiple cash flows, perpetuities, and the impact of multiple compounding interest periods per year. Many practical problems are worked both analytically and with spreadsheets.

Project Valuation Techniques

Project valuation determines whether the financial benefits are greater than the required investment. There are three primary valuation metrics used in business: the net present value, the payback period, and the internal rate of return. This module explores how to determine these metrics both analytically and using spreadsheet analyses.

Project Selection Techniques

Project valuation criteria such as the NPV and IRR determine whether a project’s financial benefits are greater than the required investment. Companies use these metrics to select projects for funding during the annual capital budgeting process. Technical managers also make investment decisions but are often constrained to select only one alternative from several good ones. This module covers several project selection techniques to ensure the best project is selected.

Depreciation, Taxes, and Inflation

Preparing a comprehensive cash flow analysis for any investment requires accounting for the depreciation of equipment and other assets and the taxes paid on the project’s profits. Inflation can also significantly impact future cash flows and therefore must be addressed as well. This module develops the concepts of depreciation, taxes, and inflation and shows how these are determined.

What’s included