Texas A&M at Qatar Ethics Week teaches students about real-world professional ethicsPublished Jan 07, 2020
Creating ethical engineers was the goal of the annual Ethics Week at Texas A&M University at Qatar, which focused on creating awareness about professional ethics and the significance of ethical behavior in the workplace and life in general.
The week’s events were organized by The Initiative in Professional Ethics (TIPE) and supported by the Council of Debating Engineers (CODE), a Texas A&M at Qatar student organization.
Ethics Week 2019 featured a faculty-student debate, a film screening and discussion, case studies and discussion of various ethical scenarios, and a keynote presentation, “Ethical Leadership: Do the Right Thing,” given by Andrew Faulkner, managing director and chairman of Qatar Shell.
Ayesha Azimuddin (pictured), CODE president and organizer of this year’s events, said that Ethics Week — and particularly Faulkner’s talk, which was attended by 140 students, staff and faculty — exposed the students to real-life ethical situations they may face once they graduate and enter the workforce and even in their day-to-day lives. Faulkner engaged students and faculty in an interactive discussion that included audience polls during his talk.
“Mr. Faulkner talked about how ethics relate to the real world,” Azimuddin said. “It was an honor to have Mr. Faulkner here and a very good opportunity for students to learn from a real-life example of an ethical leader. Any time you see a presentation from someone of his stature discussing leadership and ethics — anything career-oriented — students get motivated.”
Faulkner said, “It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to engage with the students on this important subject. Recognizing that one of the central challenges, core to any ethics and compliance issue, is the likelihood we will be judged by standards 10 or more years in the future, it is critical that this dialogue starts early. So it was great to be able to discuss this topic, which so often does not involve a simple answer, in an interactive manner to bring out some of the dilemmas they may face during their careers.”
Several events this year focused on the ethics of artificial intelligence. The student-faculty debate, “Artificial Intelligence: Hope or Fear,” saw the faculty team of Dr. Phillip Gray, Eni Ermawati Lasito and Dr. Ryan McLawhon compete against a team of students, Hamza Ahmad, Hassan Khan and Mohid Muhammad. The teams debated whether artificial intelligence should be feared and how ethical artificial intelligence really is.
During another event, students and faculty watched a DW TV documentary, “Artificial Intelligence and its Ethics.” The documentary is about a man who fell in love with a hologram and called it his wife. The resulting lively discussion was led by Gray and Dr. Eyad Masad. And during the Ethics Café, case studies of various ethical scenarios were presented to prompt students to offer viable solutions.
Ethics Week highlights the importance of ethics in daily life, said TIPE director and political science professor Dr. Hassan Bashir.
“In today’s globalized world,” Bashir said, “it is no longer sufficient that engineers merely have good command over technical aspects of their profession. In fact, it is now absolutely necessary that professionals perform their official duties with accountability and responsibility. As Mr. Faulkner very effectively highlighted in his talk, everyone is watching how professionals perform their duties."
Texas A&M at Qatar dean Dr. César Octavio Malavé said, “Engineers are changing the world, and what engineers do has an impact on how we live and think about ourselves today. We strive to instill a sense of ethics and professionalism in all our Aggie engineers. All of our students take a course on engineering ethics and we weave this topic throughout our curriculum because ethical practices are critical in the engineering profession as engineers work to make the world a better place.”