Hacks is a program within our Collaboration Portfolio that offers students, faculty and early-stage ventures a 48-hour period to engage in collaborative problem-solving with U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) sponsors.

Typically held on near the on the campuses of partner universities, hackathons present a unique opportunity for students and ventures to engage deeply with DoD customers.


Problem-Solving for National Security

Hacks brings together practitioners, technologists, and thought leaders to conceptualize solutions that address critical, emerging civil-military needs. The program presents a specific national security challenge to diverse teams of innovators for concept development.

Successful previous hackathon solutions range from first-responder task management software and a security blanket designed to aid impacted populations during a crisis to a system to detect small, unmanned, aerial systems using micro-electro-mechanical system microphones. The event culminates with a competition where the best innovations are awarded additional funding and mentoring by NSIN. Winning teams receive between a $15K-$30K award to pursue their idea, form a venture to support commercialization, or continue customer discovery to evaluate the market.


Collaborating Across Communities

As a Hacks sponsor, DoD entities engage with NSIN in defining a hackathon’s scope, selecting technology areas of interest, and curating the challenge area to be conducive to unclassified problem-solving. NSIN covers the financial costs of the event but looks to DoD challenge sponsors to lead in developing the hackathon’s specific challenge. At the end of the hackathon, DoD sponsors benefit from the innovative solutions and the opportunity for recruiting talented hackathon participants to join their organizations.

Leading research universities partner with NSIN to develop novel solutions to national security needs by hosting a hackathon. Participation in a hackathon helps the university, its students, and faculty members deepen knowledge of civil-military market opportunities, explore collaborative problem-solving, and position new ventures for national security applications. The university also benefits from the notoriety of having one of their students solve a pressing national security need and deeper engagement between DoD end users and students that enhances applied learning.


For more information on how to partner or sponsor a hackathon, email hacks@nsin.us.