New Class is the News: Hacking 4 Local

Solve the Bay Area housing crisis, fight climate change and more, all while earning college credit: New UC Berkeley class has lofty goals for its students

The Mercury News published an article on our new class Hacking4Local offered by the Blum Center for Developing Economies. The class is team-taught with Rachel Dzombak (Blum Center), Alice M. Agogino (Mechanical Engineering, Blum Center), Dan Lindheim (Goldman School of Public Policy), Steve Weinstein (Stanford and Haas School of Business), and Steve Black. Elena Durán serves as the Graduate Student Instructor and Deniz Dogruer as a mentor and evaluator.

Excerpts: In any other setting, such lofty ambitions might seem foolish. But in the university’s new “Hacking4Local” class, those goals and more are part of the syllabus. In teams of four or five, students are tasked with solving real-life problems, with the knowledge that local organizations and city officials are standing by, ready to adopt any promising solutions the students uncover.

The class is the latest offering dreamed up by a teaching team that includes startup guru and author Steven Blank, who launched the “lean startup” method that has become a well-known roadmap for building a company quickly and efficiently. Their prior classes include Stanford University’s Hacking for Defense, which teaches students to use the nimble strategies of entrepreneurs to tackle real-world problems in government, intelligence and the military.

 

Professor Alice Agogino, the Education Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, listens to students during the “Hacking4 Local: Oakland” course at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Agogino is one of many helping the students as they try to help solve the Bay Area’s housing shortage, prevent wildfires in the East Bay hills and slow climate change. The teaching team uses the “lean startup” method that has become a well-known roadmap for building a company quickly and efficiently. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
Rachel Dzombak, PhD, a researcher and lecturer with the Blum Center for Developing Economies, talks to students during the “Hacking4 Local: Oakland” course at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. The students are trying to help solve the Bay Area’s housing shortage, prevent wildfires in the East Bay hills and slow climate change. The teaching team uses the “lean startup” method that has become a well-known roadmap for building a company quickly and efficiently. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

Caption for featured image: UC Berkeley students, from left, Ben Truong, Surabhi Yadav, Erik Phillip, Zachary Chao and Andre Balthazard, talk about solutions in the “Hacking4 Local: Oakland” course at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. The students are part of the 25 students enrolled in a class that tries to help solve the Bay Area’s housing shortage, prevent wildfires in the East Bay hills and slow climate change. The teaching team uses the “lean startup” method that has become a well-known roadmap for building a company quickly and efficiently. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)