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19 January 2021

Students solve problems in hands-on academic course for the Ministry of Defence

Students across the School of Security Studies embark on a module to solve MoD challenges


Students across Defence Studies and War Studies are gearing up to take part in Hacking for Ministry of Defence (H4MoD) this week - a ground-breaking, fast-paced, hands-on Masters module, as part of their academic course.

The programme, which has enlisted 75 post-graduates, will see them address 16 key challenges currently facing the Ministry of Defence (MoD), including improving confidence around autonomous systems, improving mission rehearsals for complex missions, and how to effectively detect hate speech.

H4MoD is a part of a growing global movement of mission-driven entrepreneurship, led by the Common Mission Project, which teaches students how to use modern entrepreneurial tools and processes such as Lean Startup methods to solve government problems at speed. The fast-paced class simulates what it is like to be in an early-stage startup.

This year’s cohort follow in the footsteps of highly successful teams last year, including a group of students whose solution to a key problem facing the Royal Air Force (RAF) was scaled up and adopted. The team, tasked with improving safety in the air by increasing the first-time pass rate of Air Operations Controllers from 30% to 85%, designed a new form of pre-course training, helping to better prepare trainees to self-select and pass the formal course. The new course helped boost pass rates, saving the RAF £740,000 and improving air safety and efficiency in the process.

Professor Wyn Bowen, Head of the School of Security Studies, endorsed the programme as a vital learning tool for students:

H4MoD is not just about providing students with dynamic, hands-on, practical experience of putting skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom into solving real-life problems affecting government, it also demonstrates a commitment to public service on the part of there students, helping to improve systems and functions at the heart of the MoD.

Professor Wyn Bowen

Frank Reeves, a student who participated in the group whose solution was adopted by the RAF team said:

It sparked in me an appetite for innovation and has changed my approach to problem solving by providing a proven set of practical tools which I can now use with confidence. You will develop cutting-edge skills, an innovative attitude of mind and an unparalleled network - importantly, you will make a difference

Frank Reeves

The Global Movement of Mission Driven Entrepreneurship

Hacking for MoD is part of a global series of courses solving real-world challenges. The course originated at Stanford University in 2016 called Hacking for Defense® (H4D). H4D was the joint idea of Lean Startup creator Steve Blank, Ret. Col Pete Newell and Ret. Col Joe Felter, who identified the need for national security innovation at speed. The H4D class design represents their combined experiences of Silicon Valley startups and the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The results were impressive, with student teams in 10 weeks solving problems that had plagued the Pentagon for years. Today the class is taught at 40+ universities in the U.S. and companies like synthetic aperture radar company Capella Space and Lumineye, creator of wall-sensor technology for first responders, have formed as a result.

The UK Ministry of Defence expressed interest in H4D in 2017, and in 2019 The Common Mission Project, a registered charity in the UK, launched the first Hacking for MoD course at King’s College London. In 2021, H4MoD will run in 14 UK universities, reaching 250+ postgraduate students.

The “Hacking for” model, called H4X®, has a far wider reach than Defence, with The Common Mission Project launching Hacking for Oceans, Hacking for Diplomacy, Hacking for Homeland Security, and Hacking for Local. In January 2021, the Common Mission Project will launch Hacking for Sustainability with the University of Newcastle, and is working towards the launch of Hacking for Healthcare in partnership with the NHS. Our common mission is to create an international network of entrepreneurs driven to solve the critical challenges of our time - from national security to natural disasters, from energy to the environment. Solving these problems is our generational calling.

For more information about King’s College London Hacking for MoD classes:

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