Innovating for Defense (I4D) Course


Erik Sander
Director, UF Engineering Innovation Institute

Class Period

Monday Periods 5-6

Draft Syllabus to be Updated



Departmentally Controlled and by Application Below Only

The UF Engineering Innovation Institute, in partnership with the US National Security Innovation Network, is offering a course that brings together multidisciplinary upper-division undergraduate and graduate students. The course leverages the most cutting-edge entrepreneurship education model to attack critical Department of Defense (DoD) and US Intelligence Community (IC) problems in real-time.

Innovating for Defense is a special section of Engineering Entrepreneurship (EGN4641/EGN6640; Monday Periods 5-6) that challenges student teams to engage with DoD sponsors and government contractors to fully understand a mission-critical problem through 50-100 stakeholder interviews over the semester. Student teams learn and use the Lean Startup methodology and the Mission Model Canvas to iteratively cut through the complexity of the problem, craft a business model and solution to meet the DoD/IC Mission Need and develop a prototype.

The course will be intense, and students should be prepared to dedicate 10-15 hours weekly outside class time.

The DoD sponsors this national program, which was initially developed at Stanford University. Over 2,000 students from 55 universities have evaluated 450 DoD / IC real-time problems. Sponsors report that over half the student team solutions are impactful or implemented in some fashion (see Success Stories), including 53 startup companies resulting from projects.

A student does not have to be a US citizen, and DoD problems are not Classified. No previous knowledge of the DoD structure is necessary, as this will be a crucial element of the student learning in this course.

For fall 2024, teams comprising 4-5 students will work on curated projects, each with a DoD project champion and manager with the students who will regularly engage.

Student learning will include the following:

  • Learn and exercise the most cutting-edge entrepreneurship model (Lean Launchpad / iCorps) that Silicon Valley, Stanford University, NSF, DoD, and many others have championed.
  • Attack DoD/IC-defined, mission-critical problems in securing our nation’s Defense today.
  • Develop interaction and presentation skills with DoD/IC and civilian defense contractor decision-makers through weekly interviews of key stakeholders at multiple tiers in the command chain.
  • Formally present critical workflow and outcomes weekly, culminating in a final presentation of the student journey and proposed solutions to an audience of DoD/IC and other stakeholders.

List of Projects for Fall 2024 – Full Projects Descriptions

  • USAF Eglin AFB – Software Enabled Weapon
  • USAF Eglin AFB – Base Integrated Mesh Management System
  • US Southern Command – DRAMOC Normalization Roadmap for Uncrewed Autonomous Systems
  • US Central Command – Autonomous Prime
  • US Army – Unified Data Reference Architecture (UDRA)


Registration for this section is Departmentally Controlled. Apply as soon as possible, as a maximum of 25 students (undergraduate and graduate combined) will be accepted for fall 2024.

Apply Now!


Students can email the course instructor, Professor Sander, at with a copy and any questions to Ms. Lori DeLuco at