12 November 2016 | Stanford University
Silicon Valley has earned a reputation for being at the forefront of technology and innovation. Companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google consistently push the envelope with their creations, which include products as well as cultures. The rest of the world has taken note, even the United States Department of Defense, which seeks to forge closer ties with the movers and shakers building our future as part of its Defense Innovation Initiative. But while the physical distance has narrowed as government entities set up shop, the cultural divide remains. It was time to bridge that gap.
DEFxSV hosted its first ever event in 2016, with just over 90 people from a variety of backgrounds. There was the military cohort (active duty, reservists, and veterans), as well as government employees, entrepreneurs, technologists, students, and professors.
Ben Kohlmann kicked the day off by walking us through the past, present, and future of DEF. Pete Newell of BMNT Partners led a panel discussion on the theme, showcasing the views of Katherine Webster, Lauren McCune, Jonathan Wong, Jody Merritt, and Col “Bucky” Butow. George Carpenter of Mynd Analytics surprised us with his stunning research on the human brain.
DEFxSV also did a round of activities to ensure the participants got to know and connect with one another. Before the event, participants were brought together in a private FB group so they could introduce themselves. Mid-day breakout sessions were meant to allow participants to share their interests, unique skills, and ask for support to reach new goals. The resulting Reciprocity Wall allowed participants to connect beyond the event and ensure the continued growth of the DEFxSV community.
DEFxSV concluded the day’s events with a keynote speech by Army Colonel (ret.) Joe Felter of Hacking 4 Defense fame brought it all home with a spirited closing talk.
DEFxSV leaders Valerie Rivera gave a masterful run-down of the events, plus her own experiences bringing this extraordinary group together for future DEFx leaders to learn from.
DEFxSV could not engage the world around us without the contributions of the volunteer who made this event happen. Thank you to the participants, volunteers, panelists, and speakers for helping us to connect. A special thank you to Stanford Office of Military Affiliated Communities, Dignity Memorial, ThinkWrong, SalesForce, META Studios, and Mynd Analytics.