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Ethical Standards Needed to Shape Technological Advances, Notre Dame Engineering Dean Says

Peter Kilpatrick, Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of the College of Engineering at Peter Kilpatrickthe University of Notre Dame and one of the nation's foremost experts on ethics in technology, today called for ethical considerations to be an integral part of business and governmental policies.

In a speech on "Ethics and Technology in the 21st Century" at Manhattan's fabled Metropolitan Club, Kilpatrick said the interchange between technology and ethical principles is critical and called on scientists and policy-makers to consider whether ethical standards are keeping pace with technological breakthroughs.

"Future generations of engineers, scientists and inventors should grow up knowing that they do not operate in a vacuum, that there are real consequences to their actions and that there are ethical standards that they should apply to their decision-making," Kilpatrick said.

The British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the debates over research involving embryonic stem cells and the controversies over therapeutic and reproductive cloning are but a few examples of areas requiring a thoughtful dialogue, Kilpatrick said.

"Despite all the global competition, we Americans remain on the cutting edge of technological inventiveness, so we must lead equally in developing an ethical structure to help guide technology," he said.

Society must set asidethe technical imperative that says if something can be done, it will be done, and "establish widely agreed upon worldwide standards in technology," he added.

Kilpatrick is the Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of Engineering at The College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame, where he also teaches a course on technology and ethics to graduate students. An accomplished teacher and researcher in the field of chemical engineering, he is renowned for his research on the molecular self assembly and aggregation, with particular application to biotechnology, membrane science, and petroleum science.

He has consulted for more than 20 global companies; published more than 80 papers; given more than 140 invited lectures and seminars; and holds 13 patents with two pending.

Under Kilpatrick's leadership, The College of Engineering has launched a new major, the Engineering, Science, Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Master's Program, a collaboration among science, engineering and business intended to teach students to innovate and develop entrepreneurial skills to be used in creating start-up businesses. The College of Engineering at Notre Dame has also doubled its research awards these past two years to nearly $60 million per year, and has increased its graduate and undergraduate enrollments by more than 30%.

Kilpatrick holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He previously led the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department at North Carolina State University.