About our Code of Ethics

In my last post, I outlined a code of ethics specifically targeted at Notre Dame students that Matt McKenzie and I developed. We used the ACM Code of Ethics as a model for our own. Matt and I focused our code of ethics on the responsibilities of a Notre Dame computer science and/or engineering student (CSE) after completing the undergraduate program. I believe this is important because we are often guided by our professors and restricted by university policies during our time at Notre Dame. After graduation, we venture out into a professional or graduate role where our skills will further develop and our freedom will increase.

To begin, we established some general morality guidelines that apply to most computer scientists with tweaks to further relate to Notre Dame students. One of my favorite points is “Make every class count” because I often see students take classes for granted. I believe there is always something you can learn from our professors at Notre Dame, no matter how boring or easy the subject may appear. I also genuinely appreciate the rule that one should “take action not to discriminate”. This rule relates to a unique characteristic of the Notre Dame experience, a strong sense of community we all experience during our 4 years.

Next, we covered some of the post graduate responsibilities of a Notre Dame student. Our first point is a crucial part of our code of ethics, Notre Dame professionals should “strive to increase the value of the Notre Dame brand”. At first glance, this may seem superficial and make you wonder if I work for the PR department. However, the purpose of this point is to benefit the future generations of domers. As Notre Dame alumnus working in the computer science industry, we have a profound effect on the ability of the following classes to acquire elite jobs and internships. If we commit ourselves to developing the Notre Dame brand, then we can open doors for future graduates of Notre Dame CSE.

Another unique guideline in our code of ethics stresses that one must “be a teacher”. I strongly connect to this point because I feel like it relates to my vocation. I think all graduates of the University of Notre Dame are capable of sharing the knowledge they have acquired through the process of teaching. When given managerial opportunities, I think it is an obligation for a Notre Dame alumnus to make an effort to develop the individuals working for him or her.

There are weaknesses in our code of ethics. For one, I am a spiritual person and my faith was injected into some of the points I developed. I am not one to impose my faith on others, but I do believe that Notre Dame graduates have an obligation to continue the mission of Our Lady. I believe that Notre Dame students should interview, negotiate, code, architect, and manage with grace. There are students at the University of Notre Dame who do not share in my faith and may object to this opinion, but I would argue that a faith based ethical code reflects the intentions of a Notre Dame education.

Developing a personal code of ethics is both a useful and valuable task. In the process, I was forced to think hard about what it means to be a computer scientist who has obtained the knowledge to create powerful tools with the available technologies. In addition, I developed a greater appreciation for the differences between my responsibilities as a graduate of the University of Notre Dame versus any other school. Love thee Notre Dame.

ZJL

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