Demo Day


Get involved with the McNeil Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation by joining us Wednesday, December 9, 2020 from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM to engage with student teams during their final pitch Demo Day. For more information please email Jenny Crawford at

Innovate EMx - Innovate X

Homeland Security Entrepreneurship Program

EBGN 598/498

* Starting Spring 2021 with course will be called Innovate X.  Which will combine all flavors of Homeland Security Entrepreneurship Programs: Innovate Defense, Innovate EMx and others. 

Want to help solve disaster-related problems?

Make your community more resilient. 

The impact of natural and human-made disasters can impact our community’s critical infrastructure, where the losses can cascade into larger scale disasters. These can emerge from different patterns in urban and rural infrastructures. Including physical damages and critical behavioral changes caused by a disruption in our community infrastructure, which reduces the early intervention and deployment of relief efforts. How can we predict human behavior and physical damages during these disasters so that we can employ early plans in the resilience of community infrastructures? What are the ways of using AI and big mobility data to enhance these plans in resilience

Join Mines in helping our Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create and deliver excellent sustainable solutions in response to COVID-19 and other relevant current problems during the fall 2020 semester. This is an interdisciplinary course offered jointly by the Colorado School of Mines, FEMA, other government agencies, and local higher education institutions. We’ll help match you with teammates. All disciplines are welcome (graduates and exceptional undergraduates). Enrollment is limited.

This pilot course is a sister class to the national Hacking for Defense® that is solves national security problems at startup speed.  Developed in coordination with Innovate Defense | H4D (part of Homeland Security’s Hacking for Defense project) and generously funded in-part by the Common Mission Project, it will teach students how to use modern entrepreneurial tools and processes to address critical disaster-related problems.

  • Apply Your Engineering Knowledge, Skills, and Creativity to Challenging Problems.
  • Discover Your Untapped Potential.
  • Gain Real Work Experience Through an Entrepreneurial Mind-set.
  • Expand your Professional Network. 
  • Working Closely with Valued Mentors and Advisors from FEMA, Community Partners, Mines Alumni, and other government agencies.

 Student teams will:

  • Address important local disaster mitigation and resilience needs.
  • Apply entrepreneurial principles – problem validation, beneficiary discovery, and social business model development – to disaster mitigation and recovery. 
  • Collaborate with FEMA departments and local governments to uncover and validate beneficiary needs
  • Build iterative pretotypes or pre-prototypes to test your understanding of the problem and to test your solution-problem fit
  • Implement design thinking and engineering skills via interdisciplinary teams to develop innovations for enhancing societal resilience against disasters
  • Practice the application of AI, Big data, IoT and others for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery


Dr. Sid Saleh

Entrepreneurship & Innovation - Economics & Business

Dr. H. Sebnem Duzgun

Mining Engineering


Dr. Werner Kuhr

Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Lee dePalo

Regional Administrator

Daniel Green

Resilience Analyst

Kaitlin Marshall

Public Assistance Program Analyst

Conor McClintock

Innovation Officer

Where did the idea for Innovate EMx come from? 

This pilot course was born from Innovate Defense | H4D  (part of Homeland Security’s Hacking for Defense project) and EMx Flash Challenge & Hackathon. Because of this and student interest, Mines, FEMA, Common Mission Project, and other government agencies joined forces to offer Innovate EMx as a course through the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (part of Colorado School of Mines)

Visit our Innovate Defense | H4 &  EMx Challenge website or watch below to learn more. 

How will student teams work with FEMA during this course? 

Student teams will either bring their own problem (BYOP) or choose from an existing problem posed by local FEMA Region VII advisors. Be sure to join our Online Information Session with FEMA advisors or schedule a meeting with us. 

Watch these videos to learn more about Innovate Defense | H4D course (part of Homeland Security’s Hacking for Defense project) and the winners from the EMx Challenge from Spring 2020. This clip will give you a sense of what problems you might solve in this course.

General Course Information

Course Title: EBGN 598/498 Innovate EMx (a Mines Engineering & Technology Management program elective).

Instructors: Dr. Sid Saleh & Dr. Werner Kuhr

Course Advisors: Daniel Green, Conor McClintock, & Kaitlin Marshall and others.

Class Details: Fall 2020.  Aug. 24 – Dec. 9, 2020. Monday, Wednesdays & Friday. 10:00 AM – 10:50 AM.

Enroll: Enrollment is open now. Please register through Mines Trail Head. REGISTER HERE

2020 EMx Problems

The impact of natural and human-made disasters impacts critical infrastructure, where the losses cascade. Imagine a flood, extreme weather, forest fire, or school shooting. These disasters emerge from different mobility patterns in urban and rural transport infrastructure. Moreover, disasters induce damages to transport infrastructure. Both the physical damages and behavioral changes cause disruption in the transport infrastructure, which reduces the early intervention and deployment of relief efforts. How could we predict human behavior and physical damages during these disasters so that we can predict the resilience of the transport infrastructure? What are the ways of using AI and big mobility data to enhance the resilience of the transport infrastructure?

Please note that you are welcome to bring your own community problem to this class for your student team to solve. Many of you have a uniquely personal perspective on our current local and community problems that your professor or FEMA advisors may not be aware of as a problem. We encourage you to share it with the class. 


PROBLEM TITLE: Harnessing and Delivering Power in the Face of All Situations

CHALLENGE: State Emergency Support Function (ESF) #12 needs a way to deliver emergency power requiring minimal sustainment to isolated communities in order to reduce risk to locals until emergency management teams can reach them.

BACKGROUND: Emergency events such as hurricanes, fires, tornados, earthquakes, and others can cause a community to become powerless and isolated. When these events occur, the State Emergency Support Function (ESF) #12 coordinates federal, regional, and state assistance and resources to enable timely restoration of energy services following an incident that requires a coordinated federal response. Many disasters can last weeks before the roads are clear enough for the Emergency Support teams to be able to reach the affected population. These populations can, therefore, go without power for weeks at a time, leading to heatstroke, hypothermia, medical complications, food complications, and death. Some of the solutions used in the past consist of air-dropping or deploying micro-grids. However, these options are either short term solutions that create long term continual employment and sustainment headaches or require a high degree of technical skills. They also all use technology or tools that are not easily accessible by these isolated communities. Therefore, ESF #12 needs a way to deliver emergency power requiring minimal sustainment to isolated communities in order to reduce risk to locals until emergency management teams can reach them.


PROBLEM TITLE: Cyber Incidents May Require Emergency Management

CHALLENGE: Emergency managers at all levels of government and cyber incident responders need an incident command system that facilitates their communication.

BACKGROUND: Approximately two years ago, a major state agency in Colorado was hacked with ransomware. To respond to the incident and mitigate any risks, a wide array of other state agencies (including the State Office of Information Technology, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) amongst otheres assisted. However, FEMA was forced to coordinate a response to the incident without a set command structure. When responding to traditional emergencies (i.e., Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, etc.), FEMA and it’s partners follow the National Incident Management System. However, there is no such plan for cyber incidents where appropriate resources are not type-coded, and a common vernacular is absent. The available national-level policy called the National Cyber Incident Response Plan is basic and only applicable if local jurisdictions request federal level support. There is no included guidance or policy on how the local, state and regional levels should manage the incident. Therefore, cyber incident responders and emergency managers need a National Cyber Incident Response Plan detailed for all levels of response in order to ensure that all agencies are coordinated and efficient when responding to cyber incidents.

PROBLEM TITLE: “War Gaming” Against Community Crises

CHALLENGE: The National Preparedness Division needs a safe and interactive way to run large-scale emergency simulations in order to improve crisis management skills and validate the response capabilities of the various communities.

BACKGROUND: When crisis strikes a community, many parties respond to assist in recovery. FEMA, federal interagency partners, local/regional/tribal partners, Emergency Managers, local businesses, and even fellow civilians all contribute to community recovery. One of the most effective ways to make sure that everyone is trained and communicates properly is through interactive community-based exercises or simulations. These simulations largely resemble “War-Games” commonly used by the Department of Defense but instead focus on the crisis as the enemy. In the past these interactive exercises brought large groups of people to a physical location and in order to engage in the simulation. However, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, large in-person meetings are a health hazard. As a result, they can no longer use this technique to run these exercises. Therefore, the National Preparedness Division needs a safe and interactive way to run large-scale emergency simulations in order to improve crisis management skills and validate the response capabilities of the various communities.

PROBLEM TITLE: Designing the Next Generation of Training

CHALLENGE: The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) Training and Exercise Program Team needs a way to deliver their G-Courses virtually in order to ensure that they can be delivered consistently to all regions of Colorado.

BACKGROUND: The Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) works with the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) to train Colorado Emergency Management stakeholders in procedures, protocols, and exercises. Specifically, DHSEM delivers G-Courses, which take into account the specific needs of the state, local, and tribal stakeholders within the salient region (in this case, Region VIII, and more narrowly, Colorado.) Before the COVID-19 global pandemic, these courses were delivered in-person to the primary stakeholders at the local jurisdictions. However, with the government budget being redistributed mainly to fight the pandemic, funds are limited and there is medical concern around large groups meeting in person. The DHSEM Training and Exercise Program Team will not be able to use their traditional course delivery method, and must instead deliver their G-Courses virtually.

PROBLEM TITLE: Where to Go When Your Home is On Fire

CHALLENGE: Responding American Red Cross teams and Emergency Managers need a way to safely accommodate evacuated individuals when neighboring towns and standard practices are not an option in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and save people from natural disasters.

BACKGROUND: Colorado is currently simultaneously battling two massive fires. As the fires spread, they are removing safe sheltering options for the evacuated population. Typically, FEMA and the American Red Cross work together to transport and shelter those in need. The standard technique is to have the evacuated population meet at a designated rendezvous point, board onto a set of buses, and travel to the nearest and most suitable accommodation. Depending on the geographical area and the surrounding towns, these shelters can range from cots in a high school gymnasium to partnering with local hotels.

However, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Emergency Managers find themselves with a logistical challenge. They must move people quickly at a safe distance, and find enough accommodation to house them until the emergency is under control. Therefore, responding American Red Cross teams and Emergency Managers need a way to safely accommodate evacuated individuals when neighboring towns and standard practices are not an option in order to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and save people from natural disasters.

PROBLEM TITLE: Agreeing on How to Calm the Flames

CHALLENGE: The Montana Forest Action Advisory Council needs options on how to safely manage Montana forest fires in order to have all involved parties’ needs met, and to avoid future devastation from possible fires.

BACKGROUND: The state of Montana is filled with many different types of forests, which leads to constant battles with forest fires. Forest fires can be a natural part of the forest life cycle, helping the forest and plants to renew and supporting the regeneration of healthy new trees. However, the fires can also become destructive and spread to harm the neighboring towns.

Responding to forest fires is time a massive resource drain and threatens a variety of different stakeholders. The Montana forest fires affect private property owners, commercial entities (such as loggers), wildland firefighters, emergency managers, and the environment itself. Each party has a different set of interests and wants to deal with the fires in a different way. This has led to a governor-created council (The Montana Forest Action Advisory Council) that needs to research the different stakeholders’ interests and come up with options to safely manage the Montana forest fires that would best fit the majority of those interests. In order to do this, they must first understand the different interests that the affected parties hold. Once this is done, they must address how to account for these interests and safely manage Montana forest fires to avoid future devastation from possible fires.

Info Sessions

Join our online information sessions (EMx Link)  to meet our team and FEMA and form or join a team around a problem that interests you.

Zoom Link for both sessions:

Information #1 ~ Meet Daniel Green from FEMA in this session on July 23rd at 4:00 PM.

Information #2 ~Meet Kaitlin Marshall from FEMA in this session on July 30th at 4:00 PM.

Information #3 ~Meet members of the FEMA team in this session on August, 12 at 4:00 PM.

Dates and Enrollment
  • Enroll now – Please visit Mines Trail Head to enroll. 
  • Acceptances – Ongoing
  • Team Formation – Ongoing
  • First Day of Class – Monday, Aug. 24, 2020
Course Details


Innovate EMx is designed to provide students with the opportunity to gain real work experience, expand their professional network, and to do something that has a real impact on your local community. Furthermore, earning credit at Mines  through the Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and collaborating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security. 

In teams, student will create and deliver excellent sustainable solutions in response to national disasters, by learning how to better use their engineering skills and entrepreneurial mind-set to address local and regional relevant and current problems.

This course provides the skills in developing rapid innovation, by providing a platform to develop pretotypes that address local needs in weeks. Opportunities through this course may provide follow-on funding to student teams for further refinement and development of prototypes. Student teams may have the chance to select from existing problems provided by FEMA advisors or introduce their own problem discovered through local research and evidence, that need to be solved. Although teams pick a problem to solve, Innovate EMx is not a product incubator for a specific technology solution. Instead, it provides teams with a deeper understanding of selected problems and the host of potential technological solutions that might be arrayed against them. Using an entrepreneurial mind-set, the course focuses teams to:

  1. Solve extremely complex local real-world problems
  2. Rapidly iterate technology solutions while searching for solution-problem fit
  3. Understand all relevant stakeholders’ needs, deployment issues, costs, resources, and ultimate mission value
  4. Deliver minimum viable products (pretotypes, or pre-prototypes) that match beneficiary needs in an extremely short time
  5. Produce a repeatable business model that can be used to scale a winning solution.

This course is team-based. Working and studying is done in teams. Teams self-organize and establish individual roles on their own. In addition to the instructors and TA, each team will be assigned a Mines mentor and FEMA advisor, essentially a point of contact (POC) to provide assistance and support. This is an exciting face pace class which can have a challenging workload. We expect you to invest at least 10-15 hours per week.

  • If you are looking to create/join a team, attend one of our two information sessions online to meet other students and the FEMA team. Additionally, this google form will help you search for a team, and the teaching team can help you fill gaps or find teammates.


    List of Open-Source Data Sites for Information about COVID-19 and What Those Sites Offer

    • Good Judgement Super Forecasters: Created a dashboard that predicts the likely answers, in terms of percentages, to general questions about COVID-19 to support the planning process to limit the spread of the virus. Questions include “How many total cases of COVID-19 will be reported/estimated by (date)?” and “How many total deaths will be reported in the United States by (date)?”

    • Geospark Analytics: This dashboard gives each county in the United States a risk rating to determine (a) the counties that are most at risk for spread of the virus but also (b) counties that may face difficulty handling a surge in their health care system. Each county is rated 1-10 with 10 being the most at-risk to face challenges managing the spread of the virus. The model accounts for factors such as total population, population density, population over 60, availability of ICU beds, stresses on the hospital and ICU system of each county, and confirmed cases of COVID-19. ee63e5578987e

    • National Medical Capabilities: Collects data from hospitals that self-report on their medical device and PPE needs, staff capabilities, and hospital capacity and then makes that data public. • IHME: Provides data projection and an array of visuals to answer questions pertaining to future spread and impacts of COVID-19. Data projections include: hospital resource use, deaths per day, and total deaths.

    • Cuebiq: Provides data on mobility trends in a variety of contexts. For example, Cuebiq provided detailed analysis of migratory patterns following Hurricane Harvey. In terms of COVID-19, Cuebiq has made the data open source and is looking at how the outbreak of the disease is impacting people’s mobility. Specifically, Cuebiq is looking at how COVID19 has impacted store visitation patterns to help businesses plan for future impacts. However, Cuebiq’s data can also be used to look at broader socio-economic issues as exemplified by how their data was used in a NY Times article about how the ability to social distance is determined by socio-economic standing.

    Example Websites for Modeling Data:

    • Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance by Tomas Pueyo

    • COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports.

    • HELENA

    • Information is beautiful coronavirus-infographic-datapack/


    • Open FEMA.



    If after reading through this and the details tab ​you still have questions, or if you are interested in a particular topic and would like more information, please email Sid Saleh.


    Are you aware of a community problem you would like to solve in this course with a team of students?

    Bring it to class! As a student, you have a unique outlook on problems that your professor or FEMA advisors may not be aware of in our communities. This class was created to help students become agents of change and to make a difference in someone’s life. ​

    ** If you are not a student but are interested in providing technical advice to a team, email Dr. Sid Saleh ( letting him now which of the specific problems you are best suited to advise on, your company, position, LinkedIn profile, and contact info.

    Can I support someone else’s problem?

    Yes. Please choose one or two problems to bring to class or our information session. You can also email the problem and any associates to Dr. Sid Saleh ( 

    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 emergency management? ​

    No prior emergency management experience is required. The class has a set of FEMA advisors and Mines mentors to assist the teams (see the teaching team section.)

    How do I find teams?

    Please add yourself by filling out the team formation survey. Also, make sure to go to virtual information sessions. A spreadsheet will be available to allow you to search for team members. The teaching team will help match groups that seem like particularly good fits, but expect to form a team using the team formation spreadsheet or interested friends. ​ ​

    Do I have to choose an idea that a sponsor is providing?  ​

    No. You can come up with your own idea and teaching team will strive to find an industry sponsor.

    What if I want to propose an idea I have to an emergency management organization or agency? ​ ​

    Contact the teaching team and we’ll connect you to a sponsoring agency.


    Who owns the intellectual property tested in the Mission Model?

    If you’re working with a Mines related-technology (i.e. either research from one of the team members or University IP), you must check with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to understand Mines ownership rights in any resulting IP.

    • You own the Intellectual Property (patents, hardware, algorithms, etc.) you brought to class with you. No one (other than Mines potentially) has claim to anything you brought to class.
    • You and your teammates own any intellectual property developed for the class (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.
    • 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.
    • If you decide to start a company based on the class, you own only what was created and completed in the class. You have no claim for work done before or after the course.
    • 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.)

    By taking this class you have agreed to these terms with your team. You may decide to modify these terms before the class by having all team members agree in writing before the team is accepted in the class.

    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?

    This is more than likely the wrong class to take. Your slides, notes and findings will be publicly shared. 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 protected when I discuss my ideas with the class?

    This is an open class. There are no non-disclosures. All your presentations and Beneficiary Discovery and Validation notes, business model canvas, journal and slides can, and most likely will, be made public. This class is not an incubator – although we run it like one. At times you will learn by seeing how previous classes solved the same class of problem by looking at their slides, notes and demonstrations. Keep in mind that successful companies are less about the original idea and more about the learning, discovery and execution/iteration. (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?  

    Don’t take this class. This class is not an incubator. At times you will learn by seeing how previous classes solved the same class of problem by looking at their slides, notes and blogs.


    What kind of support will our team have?

    The teaching team consists of the lead professor, other faculty, one or more experienced FEMA agents, and industry mentors. A mentor is an experienced investor, consultant or faculty assigned to your team. They’ve volunteered to help with the class and your team because they love hard problems facing emergency management. Their job is to guide you as you get out of the building and to interface effectively with your beneficiaries. 

    How often can we/should we meet with our sponsors and mentors?

    Your mentors are expecting to meet with you at least every week face-to-face or via online. 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?

    We do not assign mentors to teams. No one mentor has enough knowledge or expertise to address all your needs over time. Besides, you need multiple perspectives on any issue. At Mines, we implement collaborative mentoring. This means you will be mentored by multiple experts. 

    I have a busy schedule and my mentor can’t meet when I want them to. Can you do something about it?

    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 teammates. Otherwise, email your instructors.


    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 semester 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 also reflect individual participation and contribution.

    What kind of feedback can I expect?

    Continual feedback weekly. Substandard quality work will be immediately brought to your attention