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As blockchain courses become of a feature on university campuses around the world, so does the expectancy from companies and students that these courses are there to provide a future for the burgeoning industry.
Educational institutions in the United States are mounting an academic response to the emerging industry, which, due to the cautious public and skeptical governmental approach to cryptocurrencies and blockchain, may come as a surprise. However, now that the markets have cooled off, the monetary value of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies comes second to the value of the underpinning tech.
The industry realizes this and as such has been putting its money where its mouth is with increasing investment going into education from some of its leaders. Ripple is just one, announcing a USD 50 million University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) this year partnering with 17 universities around the world, reports Business Wire.
Some big names were on the Ripple educational hitlist, including Princeton University, MIT, and University College London (UCL). Several universities across the US, along with others in South Korea, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, India, Brazil, Cyprus and Australia are also included in the project, giving the initiative a distinctly international flavor.
Both Columbia University and Stanford University opened blockchain research centers this summer, hot on the trails of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Add to these, Miami University in Ohio, Montclair State University, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others and the direction of the industry in the US alone is very clear; there’s no way but up.
This is what students expect to see now, realizing the importance of new technology and how it’s a perfect fit for numerous sectors, with the potential to offer a range of employment opportunities. As University of Pennsylvania legal studies and business ethics professor Kevin Werbach indicates, this is the new direction in education for many:
“There is rapidly growing student interest… They’re seeing opportunities with companies that want students to work in this area, which include both blockchain-focused startups as well as major companies. Wharton [School of the University of Pennsylvania] sends people to all the Fortune 500 companies, and investment banks and technology firms. A very high percentage of those leading firms now have blockchain or distributed ledger projects, and they’re looking for expertise in that area.”
Job search site Glassdoor.com now lists more than 2,700 blockchain-related positions, indicating that the work is there if students can gain the skills. However, running the courses is not always easy according to Andrew Myers, a computer science professor at Cornell University:
“Blockchain as a technology requires that you understand a bunch of other things first: cryptography, distributed systems, operating systems… Before you know it, you’ve got a pretty long prerequisite chain. To really teach a full-blown blockchain course, you need textbooks, and a lot of that knowledge just hasn’t been distilled into a form that lets you really teach a good undergraduate-level course yet.”
It’s unlikely that colleges trend towards providing these courses is likely to abate though, and some major educational institutions are already realizing that undergraduate courses in blockchain will add even more credibility to an industry which is gaining respect by the day.
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