A 10-16 week college course pairing interdisciplinary teams with DoD organizations, utilizing entrepreneurial methods to solve national security problems.

Hacking for Defense (H4D) is a university course that teaches students to work with the Defense and Intelligence Communities to rapidly address the nation’s emerging threats and security challenges.

A number of iterations are sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), in partnership with BMNT, Inc., and the Common Mission Project.

Student Teams Working on Real-World Defense Problems

In H4D courses, interdisciplinary student teams are provided with real-world national security problems sourced from DoD agencies. 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) concept that addresses the needs of their DoD problem sponsor.

From Immersive Learning to Validated Insights

For students, H4D represents an unparalleled opportunity to closely work on real-world national security problems with DoD personnel and agencies. In addition to offering this unique academic experience, partner universities have received significant publicity from top news outlets including Foreign Policy, Forbes, Wired, Bloomberg, and The Washington Post.

For problem sponsors, involvement in H4D is a force multiplier for their toughest problems. By the end of the course, sponsors are provided with an MVP that addresses their problem and have gained exposure to a novel problem-solving framework. In addition, sponsors receive a more refined and curated problem set by the end of the course.

Past government problem topics have come from a range of organizations including: the Joint Improvised Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO), U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet, the Army Asymmetric Warfare Group, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, U.S. Special Operations Command, Army Cyber Command, Air Force Office of Energy Assurance, and the National Security Agency (NSA).

For more information on participating in Hacking for Defense, email h4d@nsin.mil.