Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT January-March 2017 Contents HACKING FOR DEFENSE
for service members,” s aid Sam Gussman, a member of Team
Skynet during Stanford ’s H4D pilot. The class was a lot of work,
Gussman said, “but opportunities like this are why I came [to
Students had to apply to ta ke the class; from nearly 60 applicants,
34 were accepted. The students formed eight teams, each apply-
ing as a team to solve a specific government-sponsored problem.
Accepted tea ms then prepared for their first class by inter viewing
10 stakeholders—t ypically front-line militar y personnel experi-
encing the problem firsthand. During the next 10 weeks, each
team inter viewed bet ween 100 and 150 users, tested countless
hypotheses and prepared weekly presentations that demonstrated
how fast the teams were learning about their chosen problem.
H4D motivated the teams to get outside the building to experi-
ence their challenges. For Team AquaLink, this meant gearing
up in Nav y dive suits. Team Right of Boom donned explosive
ordnance disposal suits to experience impeded mobility, in
order to determine the feasibility of a virtual tool to help foreign
national military and law enforcement agencies counter impro-
vised explosive threats. Team Skynet, working to increase the
situational awareness of small tactical teams and reduce their
cognitive load through the use of drones, simulated the cogni-
tive strain of combat by running an obstacle course carrying
40-pound sandbags. Across the board, all teams invested time,
sweat and tears to search for solutions.
H4D continues to expand, driven by demand for passionate and
talented student teams to work on national security problems.
Both the students and the sponsoring government organizations
derive tremendous value from the intensive and challenging pro-
cess. Several of the teams’ solutions are going forward—some
funded by private investors and others by government agen-
cies—but that is not the point of H4D.
Students in an H4D course learn a new way of thinking about
problems. What’s more, they are able to experience national
service in a unique way. H4D lets students work on difficult
problems that affect the people who protect them. The students
develop an empathy and affinity for the military, and many are
now considering careers in national security.
In addition, participating government organizations learn the
lean methodology alongside H4D students and gain a common
language for innovation. Government participants and stu-
dents also build relationships that will improve networking and
collaboration, particularly as students build careers after grad-
uating. These shared lessons and relationships are the essence
of the H4D “Innovation Insurgency”: training and educating
current and future leaders in government, academia and indus-
try with a goal of hardwiring the national security enterprise to
solve mission-critical problems with speed and innovation.
For more information for universities and government sponsors
interested in H4D, Georgetown University will host the next H4D
Educators and Sponsors Course Jan. 17-19; email contact@h4di.
org for details. For more information on Hacking for Defense Inc.
(H4Di), go to http://www.h4di.org/.
MR. WILLIAM TRESEDER, a U.S . Marine Corps veteran, is
co-founder and a partner at BMNT Partners LLC. In addition
to directing Hacking for Defense, he is a co-founder of WorkScouts,
which connects manufacturing companies with veterans, and a
co-founder of NeuBridges, which trains West African entrepreneurs
and educates investors about the rewards and risks of doing business
in West Africa . He holds a B.A . in science, technology and society
from Stanford University.
MR. DARREN HALFORD is a principal at BMNT and is
executive director of H4Di, the nonprofit organization expanding
Hacking for Defense classes. A retired U.S. Air Force colonel with
25 years of service, he has flown more than a dozen different aircraft
from the MC-130E to the MC-12 to the U-2, and completed three
Pentagon assignments that included Air Force International Affairs
and the Joint Staff J5’s Iran Division. He holds an M.A . in organi-
zational management from George Washington University, an M.A.
from the Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies and a
B.S. in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. He is also
a graduate of Air Command and Staff College, the U.S. Army War
College and the U.S. Department of State (Foreign Service Institute)
National Security Executive Leadership Seminar.
Both [Newell and Blank] understood that
the secret to innovation is not brainstorming
sessions or whiteboards. Instead,innovation
results from a disciplined and strategic
approach to solving problems.
102 Army AL&T Magazine
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