A new graduate class at Stanford University’s engineering school aims to help get students interested in using technology to help solve U.S. defense and intelligence agency challenges, reports Bloomberg.
"Hacking for Defense" was launched last spring and provides students real-life national security challenges to solve using technology. At least 50% of the students from the first class are continuing projects with the government, according to the report.
The course was conceived by retired military officers and an entrepreneur that want to help government innovate more quickly. "The U.S. government doesn’t have dog-friendly offices or competitive pay, but they have an endless list of interesting problems that no tech company can match," said Steve Blank, who helped launch Hacking for Defense.
The course is also taught at Georgetown University and the University of California, San Diego. The goal is to have at least 50 other universities offering the course by 2020.
Government agencies have been challenged to attract tech talent because they are trying to compete for employees that would be paid more in the private sector for lucrative rolls.
The federal government also faces a perception problem — government isn’t the place where millennials normally find the most exciting, cutting-edge research in human computer interaction. Hacking for Defense and similar types of courses may help change that perception and the lure students away from the private sector.
There are also parts of the government that work in leaner, more agile ways, such as the U.S. Digital Service. With the help of its Digital Service, the Department of Veteran Affairs is undergoing a digital transformation process to increase access to services.