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Hacking for Oceans

Back in 2020 a number of UCSC and Stanford colleagues and I launched Hacking for Oceans, the first lean launchpad course focused on ocean and coastal issues. The course is open to graduate and undergraduate students from any University of California school, department, or program and is fully taught online. In 2023, we have also partnered with the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, allowing students from the other side of the Pacific Ocean to take this course.

The goal of the course is to teach students how to solve ocean-related problems by utilizing the Lean Launchpad methodology and Lean Design techniques. This course is aimed at anyone who is passionate about the oceans and sustainability, and wants to be an entrepreneur and learn how to run a sustainability venture, making a positive impact. Our students get to work directly with sponsors such as WWF, NOAA, and The Nature Conservancy, and experience what it is like to be in a startup. Some of our past students went on to launch their ventures and received awards and funding from organizations such as Techstars, Blackstone Launchpad, Schmidt Marine Technology Partners, and the UN.

I teach Hacking for Oceans jointly with UCSC Professor Anne R. Kapuscinski, UCSC & Stanford Adjunct and former founder of Google Images Radhika Malpani, and UCSC Director of Coastal Science & Policy Sarah Eminhizer. The initial teaching team included Stanford & UC Berkeley Lecturer Steve Weinstein and UCSC Professor Sue Carter (who both still act as advisors) as well as entrepreneur, UCSC Emeritus Trustee, and former Senior Engineer at Google Vikram Sahai, and serial entrepreneur and Stanford Adjunct Professor Steve Blank as the main course advisor. Each year, we also count on stellar teaching assistants, whose role usually lasts a quarter but is nonetheless crucial to the success of the course.


Last but not least, I also write and speak on these topics at venues such as the World Ocean Summit and the UN Science, Technology and Innovation Forum for the SDGs.

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