Blockchain Certificate Program creates a space for new ideas and applications | VTx

With the support of a go virginia scholarship and a gift from one blockVirginia Tech’s Department of Computer Science has initiated several projects in the interest of exploring non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, and more broadly, blockchain.

Blockchain acts like a digital ledger, said James Harder, project manager for external engagement with the Department of Computer Science.

“It works like a big interactive spreadsheet, similar to Excel or Google Sheets,” he said. “People have the ability to add things to the ledger, and distributed users accept those changes on the blockchain. And what everyone generally accepts as a record becomes the blockchain.”

The technology is typically associated with things like banking and cryptocurrency, but it has the potential to be used for so much more, which is partly why the department’s new Blockchain Certificate Program is so exciting to Harder.

the Blockchain Certificate ProgramLaunched in the spring semester and offered again in the summer, it provides participants, both professionals and students, with the opportunity to better understand blockchain.

“We want participants to have the ability to understand the applications and the basic jargon around the technology,” Harder said. “It’s exciting to see students come up with inspiring and exciting new apps and ideas. Students are exposed to NFTs, blockchain ethics, business applications, decentralized autonomous organizations, and fintech.”

Neal Henshaw, technical director of the Calhoun Honors Discovery Program at Virginia Tech, said he participated in the program this spring to help his students better understand blockchain technology use cases.

“When I first heard them mention blockchain, I was confused because, like a lot of people, I had only associated it with Bitcoin,” Henshaw said. “I had no idea it had other uses. I knew then that I needed to learn more. I now feel that I am better equipped to help my students see it as a possible solution to one of their problems.”

Nelson Chu, managing director of Kinetic Ventures, signed on last summer because growth technology has been on his company’s radar for several years.

“I have been in the venture capital business since 1998, and it is part of our role to determine the types of companies to invest in,” Chu said. “In this class, there were many exciting applications that I hadn’t thought of before, like simplifying car loan processes or raising funds for new businesses. I am very glad I took the class. It was definitely worth the time.”

The program is taught by blockchain industry experts, including james catpartner of Sheppard Mullin; greg lee, COO of nft42 who graduated in 1994 with degrees in computer science and economics; Y john fieldsSenior Product Manager at Capital One.

The Blockchain Certification Program allows participants who do not necessarily have a computer background to learn the technologies so that they can creatively apply them in new areas such as art, education, business, and finance.

Harder said there is growing interest from lawmakers and regulators around the uses of blockchain. “They want to explore how this is going to work and what some of the blockchain rules are going to be. My background is actually in political science, so I’m excited to see where that goes.”

Virginia Tech will offer the Blockchain Certification Program to both students and professionals in the spring. Visit this page for more information about the program and register.

Written by Hannah Lee, Intern in the Department of Computer Science