December 11, 2017  

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Retired Major General Blount Speaks to Southern Miss Students

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Major General, (Ret.) Buford Blount III spoke to a group of future Hacking for Defense (H4D) students recently. (Submitted photo)

University of Southern Mississippi future Hacking for Defense (H4D) program students heard from guest speaker and advisor Major General, (Ret.) Buford Blount III during a special presentation last week on the Hattiesburg campus. Blount is a Southern Miss graduate and was commissioned from the ROTC program as an armor officer in 1971.

Blount served as the Army’s Deputy G-3 following his tour as Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division. He relinquished command of the 3rd Infantry Division after returning home from Iraq, where the division was the lead force in capturing Baghdad.  Before his command Blount was stationed in Saudi Arabia as program manager for the Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program.

Blount addressed future H4D students concerning his personal experiences as it related to technology and acquisition of new equipment needed for the battlefield. His captivating talk caught the attention of the students, facility, and staff in attendance.

“I was a successful military officer and that helped me be a successful business person,” said Blount. “I am committed to USM through scholarships for ROTC and programs such as H4D. I am honored to be part of this course and look forward in seeing the accomplishments the course makes over this coming summer semester.”

LTC(R) Andy Kilgore, USM’s Program Director for the Mississippi Defense Diversification Initiative, addressed the students about being on the receiving end of hastily thought-out problem solutions. Kilgore was deployed to Baghdad as a Battalion Executive Officer responsible for the security of the Green Zone. He spoke about using commercial off-the-shelf technologies on the battlefield; most of which didn’t work for very long due to hot, dusty battlefield conditions.

The H4D course, which begins this summer, will be administered through the Interdisciplinary Studies for Undergraduate and Graduate Students at USM. The course seeks to provide students with hands-on experience in understanding and working with the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Intelligence Community (IC) on actual problems they encounter.

Students will learn how to innovate in real time and to deploy solutions using lean methods to solve national security problems. Currently, the focus of the H4D class is solving DOD and IC problems; however, USM will include DHS problems in its curriculum, in hopes of discovering dual-purpose solutions. The approach is very general and can embrace the challenges faced by a range of organizations that measure their success, not in terms of revenue and profit, like most private sector companies, but rather, by mission achievement and creating public value for their constituents.

The class combines the same rapid problem sourcing process developed on the battlefields in Afghanistan with the Lean LaunchPad Methodology for rapid customer learning and product development. The H4D course was first taught at Stanford as the Lean LaunchPad course and is currently taught at six universities in the United States.

According to Dr. Chad R. Miller, Coordinator of the Masters of Science in Economic Development Program in the College of Business, “The H4D course is a great opportunity for students to get meaningful hands-on experience on Lean Launchpad and lean startup business model canvas principles that will give them a competitive edge in the market place.”  

The course was designed with support from the Support National Security Technology Acceleration and Economic Diversification program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment. For more information, visit https://www.usm.edu/trent-lott-national-center/mississippi-defense-diversification-initiative