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.
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. Monetary prizes are awarded to the top three highest-scoring teams.
For a more detailed description, please click here for a news article about the 2019 competition.
Highlights from the 2023 Competition
The seventh annual Interdisciplinary Ethics Tech Competition was held on February 4, 2023. Eight teams comprised of students from a range of academic disciplines collaborated to form a hypothetical task force testifying before a Congressional Committee to provide recommendations on how - if at all - the U.S. government should regulate deep fakes. They sought to answer the question: As viewers can no longer tell the difference between real and faked content, how do we draw the line to harness the beneficial aspects of this technology while protecting against harm? The top three teams won scholarship awards of $10,000, $4,000 and $2,000, respectively.
The three highest-scoring teams were as follows:
- 1st Place: Shayan Abtahi (Law), Lucia Jayne (Computer Science), Yamineesh Kanaparthy (Business Analytics) and Sarah Sorenson (Law)
- 2nd Place: Mariah Bowman (Law), Sean Harms (Law), Conor Rowan (Aerospace Engineering) and Britt Wirth (Law)
- 3rd Place: Xelef Botan (Law), Kailey Lauter (Law), Kylie Hunter (Engineering/Technology Cybersecurity and Policy) and Colton Marschik (Business)
Highlights from the 2022 Competition
In the 2022 competition, nine teams of students submitted video presentations detailing their proposals for a technologically sound contact-tracing program that could be used in the next public health crisis to safeguard public health while respecting individual privacy and balancing business, ethical and legal interests.
The three highest-scoring teams were as follows:
- 1st Place: Landon Glover (Law), Austin Hayes (Engineering), Garrett Janney (Law) and Zac Salinger (Business)
- 2nd Place: Megan Bryan (Law), Isabelle Dean (Law), Austin McCleery (Law) and Grace Wilson (Engineering and Creative Technology & Design)
- 3rd Place: Neill Shikada (Creative Technology & Design), Paul Stevenson (Law) and Diego Villareal (Law)
Highlights from the 2021 Competition
In 2021, the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative Collegiate Program at Colorado Law, the Collegiate Program at Leeds School of Business, and Silicon Flatirons hosted the fifth annual Interdisciplinary Ethics Tech Competition, this time in a virtual format via zoom. Graduate students from across campus - in disciplines including law, business, engineering and communications - came together in teams to tackle a case problem involving a fictional company deciding whether to move its entire workforce to a remote-only environment, and navigating the ethical, technological, business and legal implications of the decision.
The three highest-scoring teams were:
- 1st Place: Madeline Boatwright (Business), Renee Gagne (Business), Feroz Khalidi (Law), Dan Pomerantz (Law) and Rachel Whaley (Business)
- 2nd Place: Brandon Hayes (Engineering), Dan Hildebrand (Business) and Richard Koch (Law)
- 3rd Place: Malinda Dietrich (Communications), Elif Deniz Oguz Erkal (Engineering), Jared Klein (Business), Nicholas Matera (Law) and Graham Stevenson (Law)
Thank you to all of our participants and volunteer judges!
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