Frequently Asked Questions

Come to the virtual Info Session for a real-time FAQ. Missed the Info session? You can view it here.



Who Can Apply?

Any enrolled graduate student at URI can apply from any department. Advanced undergraduates in/entering their senior year can ask for permission to enroll.

When will I hear if I am accepted?

The class has a rolling admission. Quickly after you apply, you will be notified. You will also be asked to talk with the teaching team or meet up to discuss the class to answer any questions you might have.

I have some questions, whom should I contact?

Please email

I am interested in finding team members or joining a team, where can I look?

Fill out the application form as an individual and the instructors will be in touch or go to one of the information sessions listed on the home page.

How do I apply?

See the application page.

Can I apply as a team with an idea/technology?

Yes, but you need to contact one of the members of the teaching team to discuss your idea and get help finding a sponsor to sponsor your team.

How do I join the mailing list?

Join mailing list here.

I am not technical, can I apply?

Yes, any student can apply. The best efforts come from teams that have a diverse background.

I have an idea/project that I think the Hacking for Oceans program would be interested in. It doesn’t fit one of the problem topics, can I still apply for this class?

Please contact the teaching team as soon as possible to see if it is possible to identify an organization to sponsor your project.

What is the difference between this class and the Lean Launchpad or I-Corps?

​In the Lean Launchpad and I-Corps, teams come with a vision of a product or service they’d like to build. In H4O, student teams select from an existing set of problems provided by industry and government sponsors. Although teams pick a problem to solve, H4O is not a product incubator for a specific technology solution. Instead, it provides teams with a framework to build a deep understanding of selected problems, the challenges of getting them out to the field, and the host of potential technological solutions that might be arrayed to solve them.

Do I have to be a US citizen to take this class?

No, all nationalities are welcome.

Do I have to have previous experience with environmental research organizations?

​​No prior experience required – the class has a set of mentors and advisers to assist the teams.

How will we figure out who to talk to from sponsoring organizations?

Each team will have a dedicated sponsor. They are the providers of the problem and will be making initial introductions for you. Then the rest is up to you, your teammates, mentors, and advisers to help you figure whom else to talk to.

How much time per week will I be spending on this class?

While the class meets once a week for three hours, students regularly spend 7-10 hours each talking to customers and building minimal viable products. Do not take this class if you cannot commit the time.

Team Formation & Ideas

​Who owns the intellectual property tested in the Mission Model?

If you’re working with a URI related-technology (i.e. either research from one of the team members or University IP), you must check with the Office of Intellectual Property & Economic Development (IPED) regarding ownership rights in any resulting IP. The IPED is a department within the Division of Research and Economic Development and reports to the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

  1. You own what Intellectual Property (patents, hardware, algorithms, etc.) you brought to class with you. No one (other than URI) has claim to anything you brought to class.
  2. You own all intellectual property (such as code for a web-based project) developed during class. You are agreeing to open-source your class developed assets. Your sponsor will have access to those materials.
  3. You and your team members need to disclose to each other and your sponsor what IP/Licensing rights any company you’ve worked at has to inventions you make at school.
  4. If any of you decide to start a company based on the class, you own only what was written and completed in the class. You have no claim for work done before or after the class.
  5. If a subset of the team decides to start a company, they do NOT “owe” anything to any other team members for work done in and during the class. All team members are free to start the same company, without permission of the others. (We would hope that a modicum of common sense and fairness would apply.)
  6. By taking this class you have agreed to these terms with your team.

I feel my idea/Mission Model may become a real company and the “next killer app” and I want to own it myself what should I do?

A number of startups have come out of the Lean LaunchPad/Hacking for X classes at universities. However, this is a team-based class. While you’re in these classes your slides, notes, and findings will be shared with your team. There are no Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) Your team owns everything done in class. Discuss Intellectual Property rights with your team from the beginning. If you can’t come to agreement with the team, join another team, pick another project, or drop the class. Remember anything you do and learn in the class is public.

Will my Intellectual Property rights be covered under non-disclosures when I discuss my ideas with the class?

  1. This is an open class. There are no non-disclosures. All your presentations and Customer Discovery and Validation notes, business model canvas, blogs and slides can, and most likely will, be made public. This class is not an incubator. At times you will learn by seeing how previous classes solved a similar problem by looking at their slides, notes and blogs.

Keep in mind that successful companies are less about the original idea and more about the learning, discovery and execution. (That’s the purpose of this class.) Therefore you must be prepared to share your ideas openly with the class. It is a forum for you to “bounce” your ideas off your peers.

I’m not comfortable sharing what I learn with others, what should I do?

​Do not take this class. At times you will learn by seeing how previous classes solved the same class of problem by looking at their slides, notes and blogs.

Resources Available

What kind of support will our team have?

The teaching team consists of a business professor, an oceanography professor, with remote participation from some of the founders of the Hacking4X classes. Each team will be assigned a mentors and a liaison. A mentor is an experienced researcher, investor or consultant assigned to your team. They’ve volunteered to help with the class and your team because they love hard problems, love startups and appreciate the importance of addressing issues facing the city. Their job is to guide you as you get out of the building and to interface effectively with your sponsors.

How often can we/should we meet with our mentor?

Your mentor is expecting to meet with you at least every week face-to-face or by video chat. You can email them or meet with them more often if they have time.

Can I talk to a mentor not assigned to my team?

By all means, do so. All the mentors are happy to help. However they cannot support your team full time unless your mentor decides to swap places with them.

I have a busy schedule and my mentor can’t meet when I want them to.

Mentors have day jobs. Asking them to meet or reply to you ASAP is not acceptable. So plan ahead to allow for a reasonable amount of time for a reply or meeting. Be concise with your request and be respectful of their time.

I need help now.

You first stop is your professors. Email or sit down with them during the week if you have a problem. Your professors have office hours every (Time TBD). If you need something resolved sooner, email us.

Team Dynamics

What roles are in each team?

​Traditionally, each team member is part of the “customer development team”. You have to figure out how to allocate the work.

What if my team becomes dysfunctional?

Prepare to work through difficult issues. If the situation continues, approach the teaching team. Do not wait until the end of the quarter to raise the issue.

What if one of my teammates is not “pulling his/her weight”?

Try to resolve it within your team. If the situation continues longer than a week, please approach the teaching team. Final grades will reflect individual participation and contribution.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

Weekly continual and direct feedback. Substandard quality work will be immediately brought to your attention.

Other Questions?