Hacking for Defense

Solving national security issues with the Lean Launchpad

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ASU Hacking4Defense

Hacking for Defense (H4D) is a project-driven course that teaches problem-solving, creative thinking, and solution development.

The class provides students with a menu of problems to solve, with each problem being sourced directly from a sponsor within the Department of Defense (DoD). Working directly with DoD personnel, class mentors, and other experts, students spend the semester crafting and refining solutions that can be adopted in short order.

Students’ work and solutions have real-world impact.

How does Hacking for Defense work?

Students break into teams of 3-4, and each team receives a real-life problem statement from the military. Over the course of the semester, students work hand-in-hand with their problem sponsor as they interview as many people related to their problem as they can. Students continually develop their solution as they become experts on their topic. By the end of the course, students are required to have a minimum viable product (MVP) and/or prototype.

What is H4D?

Hacking for Defense is a national program of the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) that uses the Lean Launchpad or Lean Startup Methodology and startup-level speed to develop solutions sourced from the U.S. government.

Who is it for?

This class is open to all undergraduate and graduate students. All are encouraged to apply – this course is strongest when students from a variety of disciplines, backgrounds and experiences join together to think through and solve some of today’s most pressing national security challenges.

How do I register?

Easy! Register by clicking the link below or head to your course registration.

Register for an opportunity
to serve your country.

What students are saying

Frequently asked questions about Hacking for Defense

Q: Which majors can participate?

A: All majors. Business, Engineering, Design and Sustainability students are highly encouraged.

Q: Can this course fulfill a graduation requirement?

A: This is an elective course.

Q: Are there any prerequisites to this course?

A: There are no prerequisites to this course.

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

A: Absolutely not! The "Hacking for Defense" title is meant to highlight the problem-solving nature of the class rather than computer science or what you think of with traditional "hacking."

Q: Where do the problems come from?

A: Problems are sourced directly from entities like NASA, the U.S. Army, U.S. Special Operations Command, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps. Students will be working closely with military members and representatives from each of these groups.

Q: How do you make this class truly interdisciplinary?

A: Student applicants are coming in from business, engineering, design, computer science, sustainability as well as arts and sciences. Teams will be formed with students of different majors and areas of expertise to create the strongest teams.

Q: The problems seem like they are big and intimidating. What happens if we don't solve our problem?

A: 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. You and your team basically become subject matter experts in your area. Sometimes, ruling out potential solutions that won't work is just as valuable.

Q: Can international or foreign national students take this course?

A: Yes, this course is open to internationship and foreign national students. All projects are unclassified for this purpose.