Soldiers to Learn Innovation and Entrepreneurship Skills in Continuing Education Class
The Innovation Project Leaders course is part of a new partnership between NC State and BMNT, an innovation consulting company.
North Carolina State University will offer a series of training courses that teach members of the military community to apply lean innovation and entrepreneurship techniques to address national security and defense problems. The university is partnering with BMNT, Inc., the Palo Alto-based company that helps public sector innovators solve complex problems, to offer the classes.
The series will offer both self-paced and instructor-led courses, and courses will vary in length. Students who enroll in the Innovation Project Leaders class will learn innovation skills such as value proposition mapping and minimum viable product experiments. The class is one in BMNT’s series of Hacking for X (H4X) courses and is based on the same curriculum used in the national academic program Hacking for Defense®, which teaches graduate students in over 50 universities to solve critical national security challenges.
“This partnership brings us the ability to scale from training individual innovators to creating a lasting culture across the armed services,” says Bull Holland, who taught a version of the course at NC State and directs the H4X training series at BMNT. Holland has also taught the course for the U.S. Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, respectively. “Students in this first course will learn how to apply rapid experimentation techniques perfected over time by numerous innovative startup companies to the daily defense challenges they face in the field.”
Sponsored by NC State’s Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) National Security Initiatives and BMNT, the course will focus on filling a critical missing skill in the capabilities development process – defining evidence-based product features. BMNT and ORI will also partner with NC State Entrepreneurship to identify additional opportunities for education, research and development. The National Guard Bureau is providing funding for guardsmen to enroll in the course.
“Military leaders have been asking service members to learn ‘how industry does it,’” Holland says. “The Innovation Project Leaders class is a giant leap toward that goal.”
Military leaders have been asking service members to learn ‘how industry does it.’” The Innovation Project Leaders class is a giant leap toward that goal.” – Bull Holland
In the class, technical experts from the Army Research Laboratory, tech companies, universities and the capabilities development community will work with soldiers to develop real solutions to challenges ranging from modernizing infantry mortar systems to improving Special Operations recruiting. Students present their final projects at the end of the course.
“NC State proudly offers market-driven continuing education programs for individuals and groups in North Carolina and beyond, so this agreement with BMNT is a great way to support the specific training interests of our military community,” says Alyson Wilson, associate vice chancellor for national security and special research initiatives.
Story by Katherine Kershaw