Willow Neske and Courtney Sebanas at the Lockheed Martin headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland.

Earlier this month, Willow Neske, a senior bioengineering major, represented Temple University in its first appearance at Lockheed Martin's Sixth Annual Ethics in Engineering Competition. 

"I was excited to be chosen because this seemed like an interesting opportunity to learn more about ethics, and then also get to see the Lockheed Martin facilities and meet people from all over the country," Neske said.

She traveled with Fox School of Business senior Courtney Sabanas to Lockheed Martin headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, for the competition, which took place from Feb. 27 to March 1. The pair joined more than 70 colleges and universities from across the U.S. and from the Netherlands.

All competitors were presented with a fictional ethics case: two companies developing an unmanned aerial vehicle training system faced cyber security issues. The students then had to decide whether or not to move forward.

Neske and Sabanas competed in two rounds against Howard University and the College of Charleston, in which they argued for both sides of the ethical dilemma. The competition functioned as a debate that allowed the Temple duo to consider various sides of the issue.

"We realized, from working with the other teams, points of view that we had considered, but we didn't realize were as important," Neske said. "So we learned some stuff along the way!"

Both students previously displayed interest in professional ethics, and they were given the opportunity to bring together their knowledge from different schools. Neske hadn't had the opportunity to work with Fox students before, so hearing Sabana's business point of view was a unique, interesting opportunity, she said.

Sabanas has experience in similar competitions and Neske studies engineering. The Lockheed Martin event combined their skillsets in a new and impactful experience for both of them.

"Courtney and I were both really happy with how we worked with each other and how we engaged with the other teams by the end of it," Neske said. "So, it was a learning experience, but we had fun doing it."

Their collaboration has set the groundwork for future events and collaboration between the College of Engineering and Fox, said James Furmato, a bioengineering professor. He and Daniel Isaacs, a risk, actuarial science and legal studies professor, guided Neske and Sabanas as their advisors for the competition.

"I never pass on an opportunity to share what little I know about anything!" Furmato said. "The key to such a competition was not superior knowledge or debating tactics. It was more about getting two students who didn't know each other before December and who were both superb in their fields of study to come together and work toward a common cause. As an advisor, I was not imparting technical information but professional technique!"

In between competing, students could also participate in learning opportunities like attending workshops, using virtual reality technology, meeting Lockheed Martin employees at a recruiting table in an exhibit hall and touring the Lockheed Martin Center for Leadership Excellence. They also were able to attend a presentation hosted by the team who worked in the production of Top Gun: Maverick where panelists shared their experiences and screened the film.

The competition was an opportunity for Temple students to get off campus and practice evaluating real-life ethical dilemmas in business and engineering in an educational setting before entering the workforce. 

In the future, Furmato hopes that more Engineering students are able to attend similar competitions and engage with Fox students in and outside of the classroom, while Neske plans to apply what she learned to her future career in engineering.

"It's kind of cheesy, but it's like the saying 'it's about the journey, not the destination,'" Neske said. "Even though we didn't win the competition, working with Courtney and the team to get there and then being with them, working during the competition, that was a lot of fun."