Student Team Reaches Semifinals of Lockheed Martin Ethics Competition

Moujabber and Rassa
Mark Moujabber & Sean Rassa

Mark Moujabber, a fourth-year mechanical engineering and mechanics major, and Sean Rassa, a second-year electrical and computer engineering major, made a strong showing at the 7th annual Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Competition held in Bethesda, MD last month. The duo, advised by MEM department head Jonathan Spanier, PhD, placed as semi-finalists, securing a spot in the top four among 72 teams from universities across the nation.

The competition, which ran from February 26 to 28, challenged teams to tackle a real-world case study that demanded the integration of ethical, technical, and business expertise to provide solutions for complex engineering problems. This year's case focused on the deployment of a satellite designed to use AI for detecting asteroids that pass dangerously close to Earth. Moujabber and Rassa assumed the roles of two subcontractor organizations supporting this mission.

The competition format included multiple rounds of role-playing, simulating business meetings where teams presented their assigned company's recommendations and engaged in discussions to develop a common approach. The teams had to address issues such as interpersonal ethics, like dealing with harassment between employees, and maintaining trust between the companies involved in the project. Judges evaluated the teams based on their analysis, solution, persuasiveness, and presentation skills.

The Drexel team's success hinged on their ability to approach problem-solving from an interdisciplinary and holistic perspective. Rassa, a computer engineering major, leveraged his strong knowledge base in AI and electrical technical components to take the lead on the technical aspects of the case. Moujabber, a mechanical engineering major with a finance minor and consulting experience, drew upon his industry background to guide the team's approach to the case's crucial ethics component. The pair's clear communication was key, as they needed to express complex, multidisciplinary information in a way that could be easily understood.

"Beyond their clear strengths in engineering, Mark and Sean have remarkable emotional intelligence," Spanier said. "As the competition progressed, the teams were surprised with escalating challenges and new twists in the interpersonal relationships between the fictitious clients and companies. They were prepared for everything that was put in front of them."

The team credits Drexel’s hands-on learning approach for preparing them with the tools to succeed in the competition. "There's few opportunities for most college students to get the feel of what an actual business meeting is and how to operate a business and how to talk to clients and other people, but our co-op experiences prepared us for this dynamic," Moujabber said.

Rassa, one of the youngest participants in the competition, said that the competition gave him valuable perspective on how engineering integrates with business. "I’m finishing up my first co-op now, and in both co-op and this competition, you're able to see the decisions that drive the engineering practices that are put in place, which is really interesting because business is not quite as disconnected from the engineering as you would think," he explained.

This marks only the second year that Drexel has participated in the Lockheed Martin Ethics in Engineering Competition. As Moujabber and Rassa demonstrated, Drexel's commitment to experiential learning through co-op and interdisciplinary education prepares students to tackle real-world challenges with skill, integrity, and innovation.