Students - many of them using their laptops - take in a class lecture at Cal State Fullerton's Steven G. Mihaylo Hall. In an era in which artificial intelligence is poised to transform all industries, including accounting, Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Accounting is taking the lead in preparing the next generation of professionals for this future and has partnered with UiPath, a New York City-based robotics process automation (RPA) software company. Together, UiPath and CSUF’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics offer both a graduate course and, in spring 2020, an undergraduate course exploring the applications of RPA to drive efficiencies and improve performance in accounting.

Mihaylo College’s accounting department is the first higher education entity in the United States to partner with UiPath through the company’s Academic Alliance program, which empowers students with the skills needed for success in the field.

The spring 2019 course featured presentations and applied demonstrations from UiPath representatives, as well as class visits from professionals from the Big Four accounting firms, who explored actual examples of the use of RPA to improve accounting functions. Applications discussed included automating tax functions, consolidations and data mining. Students wrote the script for automation that would assist them in their own daily tasks, creating bots that could perform such tasks as emptying the recycle bin of a computer at a specified time each day, finding the seven-day weather forecast for specific zip codes, creating a list of particular items being sold on Amazon, or assembling and compiling U.S. Census and stock market data.

Three Cal State Fullerton accounting students at the Accounting Competition at Mihaylo Hall on April 12, 2019.

Students participating in Cal State Fullerton’s accounting programs will benefit from the real-world applications of automation, as provided by the collaboration with UiPath.

“Our accounting curriculum is evolving into a world-class, tech-forward, real-world, experience-based model,” says April Morris ’75, accounting lecturer, co-director of the Center for Corporate Reporting and Governance, and instructor of ACCT 503, the “toolbox” course for data analytics and RPA. “Automation is no longer the future; it is the now.”

MBA student Yang Xu ’12 ’19 was among the participants in the course. “Having had the opportunity to build my own software robot, I feel confident in my ability to not only use RPA but also scale it across an organization,” she says. “My familiarity with RPA is definitely something that I will be adding to my résumé.”

In light of the impact of the spring 2019 pilot course, a similar class for undergraduate students is in the works for spring 2020, ensuring that the world of automation is central to the education of all accounting students graduating at Cal State Fullerton.

“We recognize that successful accounting professionals will be leaders in the use of advanced technologies and analytics,” says Vivek Mande, chair of the Department of Accounting. “Our program trains students in technology that is on the forefront of the fast-changing business environment.”

For More on Accounting

For more on Mihaylo College Accounting, which is one of a select group of such programs to be dually accredited by the AACSB, visit them online. In addition to undergraduate and graduate education programs, the department also supports the Center for Corporate Reporting and Governance, which provides continuing education for professionals and academic researchers in the field.

Or read more of our articles on Mihaylo College Accounting.