Frequently Asked Questions


​When will the course meet?

Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-5pm in Spring Quarter 2023 (First class: Monday, April 3- and Final class Wednesday, June 7)

Who can participate in this course?

Any enrolled student at UC Santa Cruz can join by permission from any department.  

Graduate students at other UCs please submit your interest. Please complete the Intercampus Exchange Program (ICEP) Application form, which must be received by your Graduate Studies Department at least 4 weeks prior to the spring term start date (April 3 at UCSC).  

If you are a MIIS graduate student not enrolled at UC Santa Cruz, please email directly for additional information about joining the course.

** If you are not a student but are interested in providing technical advice to a team, email letting us know a) if you have a new problem you'd like to have a student team work on or b) which of the specific problems you are best suited to advise on. Please also include your company, position, LinkedIn profile, and contact information in your email. **

How do I enroll in the course? 

I have some questions, whom should I contact?

Please email or come to one of our upcoming information session socials

Sign up for office hours CLICK HERE.

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

The teaching team will help you find teammates. 

Who will be teaching the course?

The course planning and teaching team includes two UCSC Professors (Kapuscinski and Carter), lecturer Andrea Carafa, and Coastal Science & Policy Program Assistant Program Director (Sarah Eminhizer) and a stellar set of Silicon Valley leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship (Steve Weinstein and Radhika Malpani). Professor Anne Kapuscinski is responsible for assessing graduate students' work and Andrea Carafa will be responsible for assessing undergrads' work.

When will I hear if I am accepted into the course? 

The course has a rolling admission and quickly after you apply, you will receive word.  

I am not technical, can I join?

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

I have an idea/project that I think the Hacking 4 Oceans course team would be interested in.  It doesn't fit one of the problem topics, can I still join this course?

Please contact the teaching team at to discuss your idea and see if it is possible to identify an organization to sponsor your project.

What is the difference between this course and I-Corps?

In H4O, student teams select from around an existing set of problems provided by a range of project 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 deeper understanding of selected problems, customer discovery experience, the challenges of getting solutions out to the field, and the host of potential solutions that might be arrayed to solve them.

You can review the H4O Syllabus:

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

No, all nationalities are welcome.

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

​​No prior experience required - the course 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 course?

While the course meets once a week for three hours, students regularly spend 10-15 hours each talking to customers and building minimal viable products. Do not take this course if you cannot commit the time.

How do I join the mailing list?

Complete the interest form here and you will be included on future emails/updates. 

Resources Available

What kind of support will our team have?

The teaching team consists of professors, experienced government professionals, and multiple course assistants.  Each team will be assigned a mentor and a liaison. A mentor is an experienced researcher, investor or consultant assigned to your team. They’ve volunteered to help with the course and your team because they love hard problems, love startups, and appreciate the importance of addressing issues facing the ocean. 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 Zoom. 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 the teaching team. Email or sit down with them during the week if you have a problem. Office hours will be included in the syllabus for the course. 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​. 

Team Ideas and Solutions

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

If you’re working with a UCSC related-technology (i.e. either research from one of the team members or University IP), you must check with the IP Management team under the Office of Research to understand UCSC ownership rights in any resulting IP. 

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. However, this is a team-based course. While you're in this course your slides, notes, and findings will be shared with your team. There are no Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) Your team owns everything done in the course. 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 course. Remember anything you do and learn in the course is public. 

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

NO. This is an open course. 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 course is not an incubator. At times you will learn by seeing how previous courses solved the same type of 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 course.) Therefore you must be prepared to share your ideas openly with the rest of your classmates. 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 course. At times you will learn by seeing how previous classes solved the same type of problem by looking at their slides, notes and blogs. ​

Other Questions?

If after reading through this page and the Details page you still have questions, please email: