Student ethics contest offers “amazing” opportunity

May 26, 2023

Spartan Engineers benefit from Ethics in Engineering competition

Michigan State University had a good first showing at the annual Ethics in Engineering national competition in Bethesda, Maryland. Two Spartans, senior Maryam Esho and junior Landen Piper, finished in the Sweet 16 of 71 teams.

​  Landen Piper and Maryam Esho  ​
Landen Piper and Maryam Esho

Hosted by Lockheed Martin, the contest helps students consider ethical dilemmas in the engineering sphere, especially concerning the expanding technological sector. More than 250 students and faculty from over 70 colleges and universities competed, with the U.S. Air Force Academy placing first over Loyola University of Maryland in the final round.

Piper said Ethics in Engineering was an amazing experience.

“There were plenty of opportunities to learn more about Lockheed Martin and the industry with all types of executives, as well as recruiting professionals,” Piper said. “The 70 other universities in attendance blew me away and getting the chance to meet engineering students from around the world was incredible.”

Each year, competitors deliberate over case studies concerning the engineering industry. The 2023 case outlined two companies developing an unmanned aerial vehicle training system and pushed students to consider cybersecurity requirements. Student teams were randomly assigned to represent either company in their presentations and worked to create company-specific recommendations, as well as engage with opposing teams toward a common approach in cybersecurity concerns.

Additionally, the competition hosted keynote speakers including Lockheed Martin’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Steve Walker and Vice President of Corporate Engineering Dan Heller, as well as a presentation from Lockheed Martin collaborators who worked with Paramount Studios in producing Top Gun: Maverick (2022). This event also included simulators and virtual reality stations from Lockheed Martin’s Space and Missions and Fire Control business areas.

Esho said ethics is essential for engineering students to consider.

“When engineers develop a product or good, they need to consider how it will affect the population,” she remarked. “Keeping ethics in mind helps businesses to think twice about people’s safety and the planet’s wellbeing.”

Piper also noted the importance that engineering plays in each industry.

“Ensuring emerging professionals have ethical awareness is critical for the environment, people, and the future of technology,” he said. “There is so much to learn in the ethics world, and there will always be ethical dilemmas in any engineering profession.”

Esho and Piper are both majoring in Applied Engineering Sciences. Neither had any experience with ethics competitions prior to their Sweet 16 placement.

“I have been involved in a number of supply chain case competitions, but none of them compared to the ethics case,” Esho said. “I decided to join the team to give myself a different type of challenge and to experience working in a new industry I have not interacted with before. In the end, we learned many valuable lessons and skills that we can use in our future endeavors and to hopefully coach the next MSU team who will participate in the competition.” 

Written by College of Engineering student writer Lia Bergin.