Ethical Issues in My Profession
As we indirectly saw at Cheetah Mobile, there are ethical issues in every profession, even software engineering. Many of Cheetah’s games, such as Piano Tiles 2, are direct copies of other games that came before them. Because it is difficult to think of truly original ideas, many games or applications can be very similar, with only a few differences from a well-established game. In this instance, ethical questions such as “This game is not my own or my team’s idea, it’s merely a copy of a popular game. Is it ethical to publish it?” and “This app does exactly the same thing that XYZ App does, but with this one minor difference. Is this ethical?” arise.
I believe that directly copying games or making minor adjustments to preexisting apps without notifying (and having the support of) the original developer and then republishing them is unethical because it is not the owner’s original thought. I realize that there are going to be some aspects of games that overlap and are the same from game to game and developer to developer, but blatantly and exactly copying another app without the creator’s express permission is unethical and is the same as cheating, word for word, off another student’s test.
However, my personal beliefs aside, the app community can’t really do much to stop the creation of copycat apps, especially popular ones. There is no copyrighting or trademarking an app (at least to the best of my knowledge), so it is on software engineers themselves to be ethical and create their own ideas.
Educational Breadth as Professional Development
It’s true that engineers have very specific curriculums and can come out of college lacking in communication skills, business knowledge, or writing skills. Oftentimes, the best engineers are not the ones who get straight A’s and graduate top of their class, but the ones who know their material but can also communicate effectively and have a working knowledge of other areas, such as languages (whether they’re programming or spoken) or business skills. This is the basis of my beliefs that we should not only have a lot of specific information pertaining to one area, but we should be well-rounded in other areas as well.
This trip has certainly succeeded in exposing me to other viewpoints and helping to better my language skills, along with increase my knowledge of engineering principles. By talking to and collaborating with business students, I was able to understand a little bit better why a company would succeed at one time and might fail at another. By talking to local students and our guides, I am able to speak the bare minimum of Mandarin, which is more than I was able to do when I left the USA two weeks ago. Additionally, I was able to learn some about the process of making parts for computers and making games, which was previously just a giant question mark for me.
Although I don’t foresee this knowledge being extremely useful to me in the immediate future, I do believe that it has helped expand my horizons and make me a more informed person than I was before this trip. Whether this is applicable in one specific scenario in my future or turns out being useful to my everyday life, I am extremely grateful for this trip and the information it has provided me.
Lifelong Learning, Continuing Education as Professional Development
The old clichéd saying “you learn something new every day” is something that I believe really affects our professional development after we leave college. At the least, the technological environment is changing every day, so we cannot afford to learn nothing about the new information. Even if it’s something as simple as figuring out how to work a futuristic email server, this knowledge can serve to make the person in question a more desirable and sought-after employee. Additionally, staying informed about current events globally can have a huge impact on the future. China is a huge world power, and it’s only predicted to become more powerful in the near future. Although a new Chinese company becoming wildly successful overnight might seem inconsequential while we’re hearing this information 12 hours later, wrapped up in a blanket and sipping coffee before heading to work, it could turn out to be vital information that pertains to our social or professional lives, which is why I believe that a person should strive to stay informed and knowledgeable.
The Social Environment of Professional Life
The social environment varies widely from company to company. The atmosphere at Cheetah Mobile was much different than that at Microsoft or DuPont, which were in turn wildly different than that at TE Connectivity. Cheetah had a more laid back and relaxed professional environment, with workers wearing casual clothes like I would wear to class. The employees also seemed to be closer and better friends, something that isn’t really common at traditional companies.
Microsoft and DuPont, while we didn’t get to see any real workspaces, seemed to be more “traditional” companies in the sense that workers wear business professional clothing every day, and there isn’t much employee fraternization outside of work. These companies gave the impression that your work stayed in the office and your personal life stayed at home, and the two rarely (if ever) mixed.
TE Connectivity seemed to be a mixture of Cheetah and Microsoft or DuPont. Workers there seemed to be more talkative than I predict they’d be at Microsoft or DuPont, but not as friendly as they were at Cheetah.
Functioning on Multi-Disciplinary Teams
Although I have worked on “multi-disciplinary” teams in the past, I have never worked in teams that are so clearly cut before. In high school, it was common for classmates to complete a presentation or a project with other students in the class. Ideas were different because people came from different backgrounds, but most ideas meshed well because, at that point, we’d all had similar classes and academic experience. In college, it was much the same except that all of had a more engineering-focused mindset.
However, this trip was the first time that I was really forced to work with people whose skills and studies were drastically different than mine. That’s not to say that I had to dumb my ideas down, because the other members of my group are very intelligent and able to understand the engineering principles as well as I did. But we all approached the project from different angles, some of us with engineering backgrounds and some of us with business backgrounds. It was weird mentioning something that I assumed would be obvious (needing software engineers to design our app and industrial engineers to work on its functionality) and to have the business students not immediately realize that we needed to take that into account. Conversely, it threw me for a loop when one of the business students mentioned that we needed to plan our company off of the political and social factors of the country and not just what would make us the most money.