Lockheed Martin’s 2021 Ethics in Engineering Case Competition
When it comes to business and technology, ethics awareness is a good investment. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, ethics plays a major role in business decision-making where a single misstep in judgment can have consequences across the enterprise. Integrity is so vital to our business that we want students to be thinking seriously about ethics before they enter the workforce – especially in the increasingly complex landscape of technology and innovation.
This is where Lockheed Martin’s Ethics in Engineering Case Competition comes into play, taking place this year during national Engineers Week. On February 23-25, 2021, twenty-four colleges and universities, each represented by a two-student undergraduate team and accompanying faculty, presented their solutions to a fictional case involving ethical, business and engineering dilemmas with a focus on supersonics/hypersonics. Last year’s case focused on artificial intelligence, machine learning technology and large-scaled data analytics.
The winner of this year’s competition was Texas A&M University, after competing against reigning champion Brigham Young University (BYU) in the final round. The semi-finalists also included University of Illinois and first-time competitor University of California-San Diego.
First place winners from Texas A&M University in the 2021 Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Case Competition, showing off their school rings (clockwise): students Chase Dickson and Gavin Van Skiver, faculty advisor Magda Lagoudas, and co-advisor Shayla Rivera.
“My experience at the case competition went above and beyond any expectations I had going in,” said student Chase Dickson, from the winning team at Texas A&M University. “It was great going through a very realistic case and at the same time getting to hear firsthand from Lockheed Martin employees about how the company prioritizes ethics and its employees in their work culture.”
Gavin Van Skiver, the other student from the Texas A&M University team, added, “The competition in every round was so close, and the tough questioning by the Lockheed Martin judges really pushed us to think on our feet. I saw a lot of growth in our team between the first and final rounds.”
While this year’s case competition took place remotely due to pandemic restrictions, the competition normally takes place at Lockheed Martin’s Center for Leadership Excellence in Bethesda, Md. and includes hands-on opportunities for visiting students to learn about the company and its technologies. In addition to attending tours at the Global Employee Operations Center (GEOC) and the Global Vision Center (GVC) in Crystal City, Va., students are encouraged to learn about the role of ethics at Lockheed Martin by participating in an Ethics Awareness Training session, networking with Lockheed Martin engineers and leaders, and visiting a booth showcasing common ethical issues in the business space.
Images from last year’s case competition on February 27-28, 2020 (pre-COVID).
In light of this year’s case topic on supersonics/hypersonics, the event included keynote speaker Robie Samanta-Roy, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of Technology, Government Affairs, who discussed the company’s role in hypersonics as industry and academia continue to push the boundaries on hypersonics development. The event also included a Q&A session that allowed students to ask questions from a panel of Lockheed Martin employees and recruiters.
According to Nafisa Chowdhury, a student participant from the University of Central Florida, “This competition reminded me that ethics should be an integral part of our business and engineering plans, it cannot afford to be an afterthought.”
Chart of school teams, divided by virtual presentation rooms. (2021 Ethics in Engineering Case Competition via Zoom)
“What a pleasure it was to participate in the competition this year,” said Aaron Shepherd, a faculty advisor from University of Massachusetts-Lowell. “I learned a lot about ethics from Lockheed Martin that will serve me well in how I teach ‘Engineering Ethics’ in my classes.”
The annual event compels students to think about the importance of ethics in the workplace and the various dilemmas that can arise, especially in the multifaceted and fast-paced world of technology. As college students prepare themselves to enter the workforce, exposing them to real-life ethical dilemmas allows them to develop their own ethical decision-making processes and ultimately search for a strong company culture that mirrors their own value systems.
The case competition is just one example of how Lockheed Martin demonstrates the importance of voicing one’s values in the face of intricate ethical dilemmas in the engineering and business spheres. We enjoyed welcoming this year’s participants and engaging with them as they presented their creative solutions.