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Capstone Ethical Case Analysis
Being able to recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgements in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles is an important student learning outcome for any ABET accredited computing program. To see how well you are able to apply ethical reasoning, we have put together a case for each team member to complete. Complete your responses to these questions and submit your work to the Blackboard Assignment Folder. Faculty will evaluate your responses against our ABET rubric to see how well our program is training students to think ethically as well as technically.
Question 1 – What is your Ethical Self-Awareness? What codes of conduct/professional guidelines/legislation guide your thinking? Check out ACM Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct – for one example of professional ethics.
· Are there any other professional codes of conduct, legislation, or business conduct guidelines that influence you?
· Can you describe the history of how your professional beliefs/conduct/guidelines that you follow can into being?
· Any thoughts as to why professional conduct is important?
Next, Read the case presented below.
The Copyright Concerns Case by Clare Bartlett – Obtained from:
SDX Alliance is a large company that sells computers, computer components, and software. Ralph is hired as an entry-level software engineer at SDX Alliance. His first project was to assist in writing the code for SDX Alliance’s new hard disc controller. He had previously worked on a similar system interning at a start-up and had written a code which greatly enhanced the performance of their product. Ralph quietly re-uses this same code in the SDX Alliance product, and does not think to tell anyone that he has used the code from his last job. His manager is thrilled with the speed improvements this code brings to the product.
Before the product is released, it has to undergo a four-month long quality assurance process review. During the review of the product, it was found the code which Ralph developed had been copyrighted by the startup he had previously worked for. Even though Ralph had developed the code, his previous company still owned the intellectual property rights to it.
When his manager informed Ralph of the problem, Ralph admits he did not realize he had made a mistake because he was not familiar with copyright laws. Ralph then goes on to explain that the start-up he used to work for is now out of business and is unsure if SDX Alliance would be able to get in contact with the owner of the copyright. If SDX Alliance can’t use Ralph’s code, then it will have to rewrite the entire code of the product, delaying its release by many months.
What should they do?
Question 2 – Describe the Ethical Issues in this case. What are the ethical/socio-technical issues that you observed in this case? Some examples of ethical issues are privacy, security, intellectual property, potential for abuse of power, honesty, quality of life (work life), and sustainability?
Question 3 – Describe your Ethical Approach or Reasoning Strategy. This is a two part question.
Part A – What alternatives are available for resolving this case? Think about what options are available for addressing these ethical/social-technical issues for this case.
Part B – What decision thought process(s) or criteria did you decide to use in order to evaluate the various alternatives available for addressing the ethical/legal issues. Check out the Ethical Decision Making Page ( from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University for some approaches to consider.
Question 4 – Describe your Application of Ethical Approach/Reasoning Strategy in order to evaluate your Options. For each of the alternatives that you identified as part of Question 3, describe the results of your evaluation process. What are the pros and cons of each alternative?
Question 5 – Present your Final Position – What was your ultimate decision in how to address those ethical/social-technical issues for this case? Why do you feel this decision was the most appropriate one to follow?

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