Students Are Looking for Classes on Bitcoin and The Blockchain On Top Schools Like Wharton
Last Spring, Emin Gun Sirer, an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Cornell University, was about to teach a 600-level course on the blockchain technology. As usual, he expected a few students to show up. According to him, in a class like days, when you have five to a dozen students you are teaching a popular class.
However, he actually saw 88 students when he first entered the class. He was not alone. All other top universities across the United States have seen many anxious students enrolling in blockchain-focused courses as the decentralized ledger technology is getting more popular.
Blockchain Courses Are Getting Popular All Over the U. S.
A new survey made with 675 graduates from schools all over America has shown that 9 percent of the students have already taken at least one blockchain-related class and 26 percent want to take one.
The University of Pennsylvania is offering “Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Distributed Ledger Technology”, taught by David Crosbie and Kevin Werbach, while the University of California at Berkeley offers “Blockchain and Economics” with Dawn Song. Cornell is also offering a cryptography course.
Last year, Song saw more than 100 students competing for one of the 25 available seats on her class and she is still seeing a high demand this year for her blockchain class. She believes that what makes the class so popular is that the students are intrigued to learn more about this technology and its historic academic roots.
Kevin Werbach believes that there is a rapidly growing interest and many students are seeing the opportunity to work in the area, which makes them valuable for startups and major fintech companies. He will teach legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School and will co-teach a class on blockchain this summer.
The growing demand for professionals together with the curiosity is making these new courses very popular among students. Jobs postings that require knowledge of the blockchain technology have increased a lot in LinkedIn and platforms like Upwork. Companies like IBM, Facebook and Amazon have all started their own blockchain R&D departments, too.
While cryptocurrencies are the most popular application for the blockchain technology, this technology can be used in many industries as it has many uses. You can use it to track supply chains, for instance or to shop for electricity and computing power. About 84 percent of companies are “actively involved” with the blockchain tech according to a recent study made by the Global Blockchain Survey.
The Bitcoin Craze Drew Students In
It cannot be denied that the Bitcoin mania of 2017 helped to peak the interest of the students in cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology. The price of the Bitcoin started the year at $19,000 USD and has drawn attention from all over the world because it had risen madly during 2017.
The Penn Blockchain Club, which Werbach is a part of, was started in 2017 and it had 300 members until the end of the year. Now, the number has doubled to 600 members. Reports from all over the country show that people were especially interested in the technology at the start of 2018, even more before the Bitcoin crash.
The Cornell blockchain club has attracted over 100 members from many fields of study. In fact, the group became so large that they could hardly find a room for their meetings.
Blockchain Is Just a Part of It
While Sirer is happy that the students are passionate about the subject of the blockchain technology, he is also somewhat cautious about the fact that they hype might lead to some bad consequences for them. According to him, they are still at a very young age to specialize and going to a program dedicated to blockchain might be a good idea.
He defends the idea that studying with a niche focus is considerably less useful than learning many different overarching principles from computer science and engineering, which are also needed in the industry and can help the students to get a job at a fintech company.
Sirer is a believer that having a broad and strong base is important and even more relevant than actually learning how to use today’s blockchains as the ones from tomorrow will be completely different.
Werbach agrees with Sirer. He believes that it can be a mistake to focus your whole academic education on a single emerging technology as there is not yet enough material to teach a full degree and nobody is sure that there will be so much demand in the future.
Understand broader holistic topics like economy and finances or distributed systems and engineering is way more important than being a blockchain expert, they believe. A well-rounded education, they defend, will serve them well even if the industry falls apart, which might happen.
Werbach, however, is confident that the blockchain is here to stay. Despite what happens to the current companies or the price of cryptos, he believes that the technology changes a lot of fundamentals and will continue to be used.