Military Embedded Systems

Real-world defense challenges are the focus of DoD, Army, and academic hacking program at WSU


January 26, 2021

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Clint Patterson/Unsplash

WICHITA, Kansas. Students at Wichita State University (WSU) have become the first in Kansas with the opportunity to learn how to solve real-world national defense challenges as part of the Hacking for Defense (H4D) program, as WSU joins the FirePoint Innovations Center and WSU’s Masters of Innovation Design program.

H4D -- connected with the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) -- is a semester-long course offered at several top-tier universities across the U.S. that enables students to work directly with Department of Defense (DoD) agencies in an applied learning environment. What the program calls "problem sponsors” from the DoD and intelligence community present technology challenges to student teams who then rapidly develop, iterate, and test solutions using an agile modern approach to problem-solving and then deliver a viable product to the problem sponsor.

The aim of the coursework is for students to obtain creative problem-solving and technical skills, network with defense and IT professionals, and gain exposure to potential career opportunities within the defense and national-security sectors. 

The DoD and intel agencies seek to employ H4D as a force multiplier, enabling the government to tap into outside resources to gain a new perspective and accelerate mission-critical problem-solving; DoD program sponsors also can access a pipeline of talented and much-needed STEM students to help address future workforce needs. Since H4D's launch in 2016, the program has resulted in 18 funded solutions and nine new business startups.

“We’re building a strong center of mass for DoD problem solving and innovation, which is raising the profile of our programs within the national security and intelligence communities and with potential students and employers,” said Steve Cyrus, Executive Director with FirePoint. “This is a big win for the Army, NSIN, and the Wichita State community.”

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