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Chase Dickson and Gavin Van Skiver won the 2021 Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering case competition.
Gavin Van Skiver (left) and Chase Dickson (right) were part of a team that won the 2021 Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Case Competition. | Image: Courtesy of Gavin Van Skiver and Chase Dickson
Industrial and systems engineering senior Chase Dickson and materials science and engineering senior Gavin Van Skiver were part of a team that won the 2021 Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Case Competition. The team defeated Brigham Young University in the final round of the competition on Feb. 25.
 
Each group was tasked with evaluating how to ethically proceed with a manned test flight of a hypersonic commercial aircraft and were required to present these solutions to a panel of judges. The competition included teams from 24 different institutions across the country.
 
Dickson said that despite some risks outlined in the case, he and Van Skiver were able to come up with suggestions allowing for a safe flight at supersonic speeds.
 
“I feel great coming out of this competition because we represented Texas A&M well on a national level, and it was great to see the time and effort the faculty at A&M put in to assist us with the competition,” Dickson said. “I think the most rewarding part of this experience was how realistic it was. During the competition, the judges hit us with hard questions and really made us think on our feet.”
 
Van Skiver said the most rewarding part of the competition for him was having the opportunity to represent Texas A&M at the national level.
 
“This win is a testament to the amazing education we're receiving and the quality of our respective programs. We also would not have been able to achieve this without our amazing advisors and Texas A&M faculty that provided input on the case,” Van Skiver said.
 
The official faculty members assisting the Texas A&M team include Dr. Magda Lagoudas, executive director of industry and nonprofit partnerships and instructional associate professor in the College of Engineering; Dr. Shayla Rivera, director of ENGR[x] and professor of practice in the College of Engineering; Dr. Martin Peterson, professor of history and ethics in professional engineering in the Department of Philosophy; and Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg, professor of practice in the Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial Engineering.
 
Lagoudas said this competition provides students a distinguished opportunity to immerse themselves in a challenging, real-world scenario where project managers are required to make tough decisions involving engineering uncertainty, safety, ethics and ultimately, the economic survival of their company.
 
“The Texas A&M team was well prepared, understood the various stakeholders and their concerns, and articulated a solid recommendation that allowed the project to move forward with minimum risk,” Lagoudas said. “They competed against very strong teams, such as the two-time winner Brigham Young University, and we are super proud of them taking first place.”
 
Dickson’s goals after graduation include pursuing a career in defense and aerospace, ideally working in the areas of process improvement, system simulation or reliability engineering. Van Skiver will be returning to Texas A&M this fall to complete his master's in materials science and engineering before beginning his career in industry.