Design Thinking for National Security

Hacking for Defense (H4D) is a semester-long course at leading United States universities that provides United States Department of Defense (DoD) leaders with the opportunity to collaborate with talented student teams to develop innovative solutions to their most pressing national security problems.

In H4D courses, interdisciplinary student teams are provided with real-world national security problems sourced from DoD and governmental agencies such as NASA. Then, student teams are instructed in, and apply, Lean Startup principles in order to iteratively develop and test potential solutions. By the end of the course, student teams will have conducted at least 100 stakeholder interviews and developed a “minimally viable product”, MVP, that addresses the needs of their DoD problem sponsor.

For students, H4D represents an unparalleled opportunity to work on real-world national security problems in close collaboration with DoD personnel and agencies. For problem sponsors, involvement in H4D is a force multiplier for their toughest problems. By the end of the course, sponsors will be provided with a MVP that aims to address their needs in addition to receiving significant new, creative, outside thinking on their problem topic.

H4D is open to students from any discipline or major. Enrollment is limited; application required. APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO WEDNESDAY, DEC. 20! HOWEVER, APPLICANTS WILL BE REVIEWED IN THE ORDER THEY WERE RECEIVED, SO EARLIER IS BETTER. 


Do I need to know how to code to take this class?

Absolutely not! The "Hacking for Defense" moniker is meant to highlight the problem-solving nature of the class rather than computer science only hacking.

How do you make this class truly interdisciplinary?

Student applicants are coming in from business, engineering, computer science as well as arts & sciences. Teams will be formed with students of different majors and areas of expertise to create the strongest teams. Our application process will insure your fellow students will be top notch - no social loafing here.

Where do the problems come from? 

We currently have plans to tackle 5 problems that have been sourced directly from NASA, the US Army, US Special Operations Command, the US Navy, and US Air Force. Students will be working closely with representatives from each of these groups. 

These problems are really big and intimidating. What happens if we don't solve our problem? 

The goal of the class is exploration. At the end of the class, if you don't have a clear solution, you will know more than you did at the beginning, and so will the agency with which you work. Sometimes, ruling out potential solutions that won't work is just as valuable. 

Some of the information I've seen refers to an "instructional team." What is that and who are they? 

The faculty and staff team committed to running this course is stacked with all-stars with expertise in cyber security, remote sensing, additive manufacturing, business, and entrepreneurship. Beyond the teaching team, each student project team will have a subject-matter expert, a military liaison, and a business advisor. The instructional and advisory team includes Daniel Massey, Andrew Meyer, Dr. Scott Palo, and Dr. Daria Kotys-Schwartz.