On February 8, 2020, the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at Colorado Law, the Collegiate Program at Leeds School of Business, and Silicon Flatirons hosted the fourth annual Interdisciplinary Ethics Tech Competition. 

Event Summary

Held annually, the Interdisciplinary Ethics Tech Competition gives students a chance to wrestle with a real-world ethics problem in collaboration with a diverse team of students studying law, business, communication, journalism, engineering, ITP, information science, or computer science.  Past case problems have featured a tech company grappling with ethical obligations related to its facial expression recognition product, and an online platform's efforts to address the challenges presented by "fake news."

The competition provides students with the unique opportunity to work as part of an interdisciplinary team on a problem involving ethical, legal, business, technology, and privacy issues similar to what they are likely to encounter after graduation. This hands-on learning experience prepares students to collaborate effectively across disciplines in their careers, and positions students to be ethical members of business management teams.

Who May Participate

The competition is open to graduate students at the University of Colorado Boulder studying any relevant discipline, including law, business, communication, journalism, engineering, philosophy, ITP, information science, or computer science. 

Event Format

Participants are assigned to a team comprised of 3-4 students representing different areas of study to maximize the breadth of each team's knowledge and expertise.

Teams are given the case problem approximately two weeks before the competition date.   In the process of researching the problem and preparing a response, team members may meet as many times as they choose and may consult with outside professionals. Students prepare both a live presentation and a short, written executive summary of their recommendations.

On the day of the competition, each team presents its recommendations to panels of judges who are selected for their expertise in the relevant fields.

The five top-scoring teams from the initial rounds advance to the Finals Round, where the finalists give their presentations to a panel of judges, community members, and students in Wittemyer Courtroom. After the final presentations, a networking and awards luncheon is held for competition participants, where the winning teams are announced.

Highlights from the 2020 Competition

Sixteen teams comprised of graduate students from five disciplines grappled with the technological, ethical, legal and business issues associated with a car manufacturer's inclusion of certain connected features on its first fully autonomous vehicle.  The three highest-scoring teams were as follows:

  • 1st Place:  Jennifer Gao (Law), Michael Uhrig (Law) and Stacey Weber (Law)
  • 2nd Place: Christina Canino (Law), Bernardo Belloso Lizarzabal (Law) and Michaela Monk (Business)
  • 3rd Place:  Michael Bortnowski (Business), Rebecca Reilly (Law) and Rhonda Sutor (Law)
    Highlights from the 2019 Competition

    Ten student teams made up of graduate students from a variety of disciplines wrestled with the ethical issues associated with data analytics as applied to facial expression recognition technologies.  The three highest-scoring teams were as follows:

    • 1st Place: Katja Edelman (Law), Emily Gibson (Law), Morgan Scheuerman (Information Science) and Ty Trejo (Law)
    • 2nd Place:  Christine Chang (Computer Science), Ryan Cooney (Law), Kimberly Cowan (Business) and Christopher McGillen (Law)
    • 3rd Place:  Brandon Moynihan (Business), Wilson Scarbeary (Law) and Daniel Sequeira (Law)

    You may read more about the 2019 competition here

    Thank you to all of our participants and volunteer judges!


                                                                     Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program logo

    The Interdisciplinary Ethics Tech Competition is co-hosted by the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at Colorado Law, the Collegiate Program at the Leeds School of Business, and the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship, in partnership with:

    • Department of Computer Science
    • Technology, Cybersecurity and Policy (TCP) Program
    • College of Engineering and Applied Science
    • Department of Information Science