More than 90 students, alumni, faculty, and staff crowded into McMurtry Auditorium on Monday, April 3 for the RCEL Ethics and Leadership Panel. The panelists came together to discuss the role of ethics and leadership for engineers in the real world, and how these ideals affect engineer’s decisions and innovations.
RCEL Kaz Karwowski opened the event, welcoming the crowd and introducing the panel. RCEL Outreach Specialist Cesare Wright, PhD, moderated. The four-member panel included:
- Rakesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of SnapStream, makers of TV search and TV-to-Twitter-and-Facebook software. The software is used by the Daily Show, John Oliver and a few hundred other organizations to record and search television.
- Fred Higgs, III, Ph.D. is the John & Ann Doerr Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Faculty Director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. He is also the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of InnovAlgae, a technology start-up company that bio-manufactures algae-based consumer goods and products.
- Yvette Pearson Weatherton, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE is the Associate Dean for Accreditation and Assessment in the George R. Brown School of Engineering. Dr. Pearson Weatherton is widely recognized for more than two decades of contributions to engineering education and research. Immediately prior to joining Rice, Dr. Pearson Weatherton served as a Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation, where she managed a roughly $70 million portfolio of education research and development awards.
- George Webb is the Director of Industry Relations for the School of Engineering, where he works to bring industrial research funding to Rice, helps with internships, acts as a liaison with the Office of Technology Transfer and manages conflict of interests. A former Intellectual Property Attorney at Farney Daniels, P.C. - Houston, Mr. Webb served as counsel in a wide range of technology matters, including patent infringement lawsuits throughout the United States.
"I really enjoyed the event and panel!" said Anna Cowan, a sophomore studying Computational and Applied Mathematics, and an RCEL Certificate student. "It was great mix of engineers from different backgrounds and with different experiences that all contributed to the definition of ethics, gave examples of dealing with unethical situations or people and reminded us of the importance of one's integrity. I thought it was really interesting to hear about engineers and ethics in the real world because it is not a topic frequently encountered in courses offered at Rice!"
Tara Martin, sophomore, mechanical engineering, tied the discussion back to her RCEL training.
"Having been through the [RCEL] Engineering Leadership Labs, I have a sense of what aspects comprise the real engineering world aside from technical knowledge," said Martin. "Communication, risk management, awareness of the customer, leadership, ethics, etc. Especially after the ethics lab [in the fall semester] disguised as the "teamwork" lab, I realized how easy it can be to compromise integrity in order to get the job done and deliver the product. After attending the ethics panel, I can connect everything I've learned in the labs to where I will be in the real world. The real world has much greater consequences."