Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hacking 4 Defense Solves National Security Issues

 On August 18, the Hacking 4 Defense (H4D) program held its very first information session in the basement classroom of the Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, bringing together students and faculty alike.

Hacking 4 Defense is a class that was originally established at Stanford, but is now expanding to universities like UC San Diego, per Dean Albert Pisano’s desire to establish a strong relationship between UC San Diego and the military. Hacking 4 Defense will prepare  graduate students, post-docs, as well as select undergraduates to become fast-paced thinkers with unique entrepreneurial mindsets. Student teams will work to find a solution out of a myriad of real national security problems pointed out by the Department of Defense (DoD) as well as the Intelligence Community. Real professionals in a variety of fields will serve as mentors to student teams in the program.

Michael Krupp, Ph.D, program director of H4D, believes the class is perfect for students who want to participate in public service and get the realistic environment of a startup business, while also having the privilege to not need to rearrange their whole lives for it, unlike many of professionals who do change their careers later on. “Entrepreneurship and the processes involved can actually help tackle our nation’s national security issues efficiently,” he said. “The Lean Startup Method, which is what we will be using in this course, can help groups get to feasible and efficient solutions. Taking this to the real world, we see that diplomacy can be improved through innovation.”

The Lean Startup Theory is a method that favors experimentation over strategic and excessive planning, emphasizing the importance of jumping in, making the guesses, and filling in the blanks of factual information later. Harvard Business Review claims this method will change “everything” for start-ups. H4D will combine this theory with a plethora of hands-on experience, requiring groups to get their “hands dirty” by constantly communicating with not only each other, but resources outside the classroom to find a solution to their projects.

Instructors Ellen Chang and Travis DeMeester both have extensive experience in innovation and business. Chang was in the Navy for eight years and remains active, worked at Northrop Grunman for 12 years, and is an Angel investor. DeMeester was a former Marine captain with a colorful background in Aerospace, and is currently a principal at BMNT Partners.

Both spoke on the opportunities available to students through this unique class, and DeMeester believes that it’s great training for learning to present in front of a board. “Because the groups will have to present once a week, it’s literally like you are practicing to present to a board of Directors on a regular basis,” said DeMeester. He also added how the experience will help transition a student’s abilities from the classroom to a real-life startup. “The gap between going straight from school towards entrepreneurship is a difficult one. This class helps to close that gap.”


H4D will have a second informational session on October 7, once the school year begins. To stay updated on the event, visit the program’s website for more information and announcements:
For the rest of this article about the instructors of the class, see our blog.

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