WPU Students Place Fifth in NCICU Ethics Bowl

February 21, 2024
WPU's Ethics Bowl team during the 2024 competition.

William Peace University (WPU) students recently showcased their academic excellence and ethical reasoning at the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) Ethics Bowl held on Feb. 9 and 10. 

The event, centered around the theme “Ethics in Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity,” brought together 18 participating private colleges and universities across North Carolina to delve into the ethical dimensions of cutting-edge technologies.

The WPU team, comprising five dedicated students – Abdul Qurneh, MacKenzie Kirk, Seamus Shaughessy, Christopher Simmering, and Caitlyn Corll – spent months preparing for the competition. 

After the intense competition, WPU emerged with an impressive 5th-place finish.

While narrowly missing the opportunity to advance to the semi-finals, the WPU team demonstrated exceptional teamwork, critical thinking, and adaptability.

Under the guidance of their advisor, Scott McElreath, Ph.D., Program Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and Professor of Philosophy, the team explored ten cases related to the intersection of ethics, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.

“I am very proud of how these team members have conducted themselves from our team meetings in October through the competition. They worked hard each week, stayed friendly throughout, made key adjustments in the competition, and stayed confident and poised in their matches,” McElreath said.

The team’s diligent preparation involved formulating thoughtful responses to the provided case studies and tackling ethical dilemmas posed by the advancements in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. 

Seamus Shaughnessy IV, a junior on the team, shared his enthusiasm for the experience. 

“I have enjoyed working with the team and coming together to solve ethical dilemmas with multiple different issues. The lively debate and discussion are always welcome,” Shaughnessy said.

Caitlin Corll, a senior team member, reflected on her experience, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to develop critical thinking and research skills while delving into the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“I am incredibly grateful I got the opportunity to have this experience and learn so much,” Corll said.

The competition, held at the N.C. Legislative Complex, just a few blocks from the WPU campus, featured four rounds of intense competition, with each match judged by a panel of volunteers from various backgrounds, including business, community leadership, and government.

The NCICU Ethics Bowl provides students with a forum to explore ethical inquiries related to crucial societal matters. Unlike a conventional debate, participants dedicate months to researching case studies and crafting arguments. 

Teams might discover themselves advocating for the same perspective, and their evaluation hinges on thorough preparation and the articulate presentation of ethical principles.

The team’s sponsor, Fidelity Investments, played a crucial role in supporting WPU’s participation in the Ethics Bowl.

The impressive showing of the entire WPU Ethics Bowl team reinforces WPU’s commitment to academic excellence and ethical exploration, preparing students to navigate the complex challenges of the modern world.