2014 has been a year focused on blockchain applications; OverStock and CounterParty have been working on Medici, a decentralized stock exchange; Koinify is in the midst of running their first crowdfunding campaign for the decentralized social network, Gems; And Blockstream received $21m in venture capital, to make sidechains a reality. As more and more projects start, there is a growing need for software engineers who are knowledgeable about the technical aspects of the blockchain.
“Technological systems require pioneering developers and experts to build them. They don’t build themselves. There also continues to be more transactions being sent through these chains and more businesses are being built around them. The development and maintenance of these systems is increasingly important.”
- Robert Schwentker, Head Of Operations
This is not the first attempt to formalize education on crypto-currency or blockchain technology. The Cypriot University of Nicosia offers a Master Of Science degree in digital currency. Taught by Bitcoin evangelist, Andreas Antonopoulos, the course is meant to help entrepreneurs, business professionals, and government officials better understand the technicallities digital currencies. NYU Law School has a similar course, but with a focus on the future of law and business. There are a number of online courses as well as, which teach newcomers the basics of crypto-currency.
“I see a lot of talented people in the space, but finding early hires can be a challenge. The reasons might be that we are still early in Bitcoin and most people want to start a company right now, not join a company.” - Adam Draper, founder of the bitcoin exclusive startup accelerator Boost VC
To counter this skill shortage, a group of Silicon Valley blockchain startups spearheaded by Koinify and SkuChain have come together to create Blockchain University, a bootstrapped 8 to 10 week course about blockchain development, starting early next year.
According to Head Of Operations Robert Schwentker, “At least half of the startups involved with the event are in a great need of talent and will be looking to hire people immediately after the course. The other half is keeping their eyes wide open for talent but does not need to hire right now.”
Blockchain University aims to be first project to provide a technical course focused on building blockchain development skills. Instead of a course about the basics of the blockchain, the aim is to educate seasoned software engineers about crypto-currency, and provide them with the knowledge for developing applications. Students will be encouraged to develop a blockchain project while on the course, coding the project in a language of their choice, with a focus on collaboration.
“By creating skilled software engineers, we are providing the resources for the future development of the blockchain by startups.”
The course will be held at Consensus HQ, which is located in Mountain View, California. Each class will feature several hours of lecturing, covering key aspects of the blockchain such as transaction types, libraries, bitcoin protocol, and bitcoin 2.0 applications. Chain.com’s CTO Ryan R. Smith, Koinify's Founder Tom Ding, and Block.io's CEO Atif Nazir are just some of people who be teaching the various subjects.
Schwentker has made a career out of rallying developers to build upon financial technologies. He has been previosusly employed by American Express and PayPal. Before leaving PayPal he launched and managed PayPal’s Startup Blueprint program for North America.
After seeing the blockchain’s “massive potential to disrupt the traditional finance industry” he turned his attention to the new technology. “Having data recorded and stored in an irrefutable, crypto, and easily accessible database is huge. Potential applications include property registries, recording and storing legal documents, and a lot more. We have just begun to explore the possibilities.”
As of today, the university is accepting online applications for the course but you can also register at their kickoff event, tonight at Consensus HQ. The event will feature industry leaders speaking about various topics related to blockchain technologies and will be livestreamed (here) for those who can’t make it in person.