USC Executive Global Space and Defense Program Concludes Inaugural Year

May 9, 2022

On April 30, 29 high ranking officials from the military, government and innovation communities completed the first USC Executive Program in Global Space and Defense. The eight-month course began last September aiming to build leaders who understand how to tackle growing issues of national security while bridging bureaucratic gaps between policy and new innovations.

Indeed, the program’s capstone events, April 28-30, coincided with Russia’s recent missile attack on Kiev, underscoring the global stakes for missile defense.

The course, taught by faculty in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, in partnership with the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA), teaches students how to make informed, strategic choices when it comes to public policy and engineering.

“You can have the best engineering solution in the world, but it doesn’t matter if the policies in place don’t allow you to utilize that solution,” said Riki Ellison (USC Dornsife ’83), the founder and chairman of MDAA. “We wanted to create a culture of excellence where we can teach future leaders how to collaborate, exchange ideas and create key relationships.”

“After this course, one of the military professionals may personally and professionally know a senior person from Boeing so they can actually pick up the phone and say, look at what’s going on here internationally, do you have this on the shelf or what can we do to help enable and speed this process,” said Rear Admiral Victorino G. Mercado (ret.), MDAA’s academic innovation liaison to the project and former assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities at the U.S. Department of Defense.

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