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Safety-critical software is a core topic in courses on "ethics and computing" or "computers and society," as well as in software engineering courses. The Reagan-era Strategic Defense initiative (SDI) was the focus of a great deal of technical argument relating to design and testing of safety-critical software. Most of today's students have no familiarity with the substance of the SDI arguments. However, with presidents Clinton and Bush considering various versions of a national missile defense system, the topic has again become quite relevant and motivated by current events. This paper describes a curriculum module developed around a Reagan-era SDI debate on the theme-"Star wars: can the computing requirements be met?" This module should be appropriate for use in ethics-related or software-engineering-related courses taught in undergraduate Information Systems, Information Technology, Computer Science, or Computer Engineering programs.
Date of Conference: 6-7 July 2001