Computing students tackle real-world threats and national security challenges

Union Jack flag patch on military uniform

Students will think through and solve some of today’s most pressing issues, from national security to natural disasters.

  • 11 October 2021
  • 4 min read

The nation’s emerging threats and security challenges are being tackled by University of Portsmouth computing students, as part of a course to address complex real-world problems. 

Mission Driven Entrepreneurship; Hacking for Ministry of Defence (H4MoD) is a module where students come together to think through and solve some of today’s most pressing issues, from national security to natural disasters.

It is led by the Common Mission Project, an organisation focused on building mission-driven entrepreneurs to solve critical national security and defence, civic and social challenges. 

35 students on the cyber security and forensic computing degree will start the course in October and work in teams of four or five for 11 weeks, before presenting their findings and solutions in January 2022. Each team is assigned a different problem and they work alongside a government sponsor for the duration. 

Head of the School of Computing, Dr Nick Savage, said: "We introduced this module last year because we wanted students to have experience of working closely with the military, MoD and other government agency end-users."

Military helicopter on ground#

Students work in teams to solve critical national security and defence, civic and social challenges. 

"We recognise the importance of allowing students to think critically about complex challenges and this course gives the added pressures and demands of the real world. 

Our students gained an impressive understanding of urgent security challenges facing the UK government and some teams proposed solutions with the potential to have real-world impact."

Dr Ali Hawks, Executive Director of the Common Mission Project said: "The student teams at Portsmouth were impressive; they quickly gained knowledge on complex MoD problems and delivered impressive outcomes; some students going on to form companies around their solution.  The calibre of students impressed the government problem sponsors, all of whom indicated a desire to sponsor another problem on this course."

Hacking for Defence, H4MoD’s sister programme, was piloted at Stanford University in 2016, and runs now in 60+ universities in the US, UK and Australia.

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