The X-Force Fellowship Pilot Program is a funded summer fellowship opportunity for university students to embed with military commands for applied national security problem solving.


The 2018 National Defense Strategy charges the Department of Defense to “explore streamlined, non-traditional pathways to bring critical skills into service, expanding access to outside expertise” as well as recruit, develop, and manage a high-quality military and civilian workforce with skill sets in “information experts, data scientists, computer programmers, and basic science researchers and engineers.”

In response to this imperative, NSIN is launching a new initiative to “create new opportunities for national security service” by:

  1. Building models of service that account for generational and cultural differences between the military, academic, and venture communities

  2. Providing flexible pathways to official service within the Department of Defense


The X-Force Fellowship Pilot Program is currently recruiting applicants for our pilot summer cohort (June through August 2019). NSIN will be sponsoring teams of 2-3 students with STEM and entrepreneurial skills to collaborate with real-world military commands. During the fellowship, participants will embed with military commands to develop solutions around the real-world problems facing their unit. Fellows will work in close collaboration with their Department of Defense sponsors but will also be required to be self-directed and entrepreneurial. By the end of their fellowship, participants will have developed and demonstrated a prototype capability for their military sponsors.

Participants Apply Here


The X-Force Fellowship Pilot Program addresses real-world military problems that require technical and entrepreneurial expertise. During the fellowship, hosts must supply an Action Officer to engage with their fellows on a weekly basis. Hosts are expected to provide fellows regular on-base access to facilities and personnel where appropriate and relevant. By the end of the fellowship, hosts will receive a demonstration of the capability developed by their fellows and are expected to continue development and iteration afterwords. Hosts are required to have participated in NSIN programming previously (including Hacking for Defense).

Military Hosts Apply Here

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply?

Undergraduates, graduate students, and recent graduates are eligible to apply for the X-Force Fellowship Pilot. Top applicants will have technical or entrepreneurial experience or expertise. Evidence of past self-directed work is preferred. Participants must be U.S. citizens.

What will fellows be doing?

X-Force fellows will embed near Department of Defense (DoD) partners for three months of applied problem solving. Fellows will work on problems sponsored by their DoD hosts potentially including (1) technical (e.g. software development, data analytics, mechanical design/prototyping), (2) strategy (e.g. communications, social media strategy) and (3) research (e.g. emerging technology scouting) projects.

Where will the fellowship take place?

X-Force fellows will be located near their military problem sponsors within commuting distance for weekly in-person engagement with their sponsors (e.g. a fellow may be based in Research Triangle Park if collaborating with a sponsor on Fort Bragg).

Who are the military hosts?

For the pilot cohort, military hosts will be from military installations in the Southeast including Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and Fort Benning. Military hosts will supply an action officer to engage with their fellows on a weekly basis.

When will the fellowship take place?

The fellowship will run from June 1st through August 31st, with specific start and end dates set by the participants and military sponsors. Fellows are expected to work 40 hours per week.

Is this fellowship paid?

Yes. Fellows will be paid a stipend around $2,500 per month and have a small budget for travel, materials, and other expenses related to the delivery of a product to their sponsor.

How do I apply?

Interested applicants can apply by clicking the apply buttons above for either Participants or Military Hosts.

When is the application due?

The application is due by April 18th.

When will I hear about next steps?

Applicants will hear from NSIN by May 1st.

Important Dates

18 APR, 2019: X-Force applications due

01 MAY, 2019: Fellows contacted by NSIN

01 JUN, 2019: X-Force Fellowship Pilot begins

31 AUG, 2019: X-Force Fellowship Pilot ends


  • Department of Defense

Questions about X-Force?

Please direct any questions to