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Student Team Competes in Lockheed-Martin Ethics Competition

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ethical behavior in the workplace has become an increasingly important topic, with companies seeking to hire ethically-sound employees and investing significant time and money in ethics training for all employees.

A team of UTA engineering students recently took on the topic, competing in the 2018 National Ethics in Engineering Case Competition, sponsored by Lockheed Martin. Sixteen teams competed, and Virginia Tech took the top prize. Although UTA’s team didn’t win, the students put forth a strong effort and brought ethics to the forefront in the College of Engineering.

Clemente Velazquez-Munoz and Isabella Pena with advisor Raul FernandezThe team – Clemente Velazquez-Munoz (Biomedical Engineering, junior), Rajvi Tiwari (Computer Science and Engineering, sophomore), and the team’s alternate, Isabella Pena (Industrial Engineering, freshman), along with faculty advisors Carter Tiernan, Ron Cross, Raul Fernandez and Steve Mattingly – was presented an ethical dilemma that had the potential to negatively impact several stakeholders within and external to the company. The competition required the students to analyze the situation, build a case of what should be done and provide a presentation on their recommendations to the judges.

“Ethics need to be assimilated and become part of who you are. We need to ensure that our students understand this and take it seriously,” said Cross, a senior lecturer in the Computer Science and Engineering Department. “This is extremely important in industry and the students received an excellent exposure to ethics in business throughout the competition.”

Several Lockheed Martin executives served as judges, including the head of the Lockheed’s Grand Prairie-based Missiles and Fire Control division and the company’s ethics leadership team.

The opportunity made an impression on the team members.

“The Lockheed Martin competition exposed my teammates and me to the practical challenges and conflicts associated with ethical engineering and business decisions. Meeting the ethics leadership team from Lockheed Martin and teams from the other universities was a great experience and taught us how to apply critical thinking in real life engineering and ethical scenarios,” said Tiwari.

Fernandez underscored the importance of ethical business practices, as well as the importance of providing students with opportunities to learn how to act ethically before they are confronted with a real situation and don’t know how to react.

“This competition provides an important link to society at large. There are many examples in recent years of ethical failures in industry, so ethics education has become increasingly important. We should be offering training in ethical behavior from the freshman level all the way through graduation,” he said.

Contributing author: Ron Cross