With the continued growth of the blockchain industry, knowledge of the underlying technology is paramount. The degree to which somebody possesses technical expertise (such as coding) will vary based on an individual's role, but all parties to a blockchain venture, whether they be developers or communications professionals, must understand this complex technology to succeed in the industry.
To address this educational need, the University of Copenhagen, IT University of Copenhagen, and Copenhagen Business School collaborated to develop the Blockchain Summer School – a weeklong program set in Denmark's capital. ETHNews spoke with Dr. Omri Ross, CEO of Firmo and assistant professor for the University of Copenhagen's computer science department, to learn more about the school.
Ross believes the program offers a unique experience through its combination of theory, technical knowledge, and business applications. The interplay of these different areas translates to a variety of potential applications. He said:
"Blockchain is an incredible technology because it encompasses a wide array of disciplines from cryptography to mathematics, computer science, law, business, and economics. Students in the program have the chance to apply deep technical knowledge to real cases that we develop with existing industry players and cutting-edge crypto companies. The partners this year include QTUM, Ontology, Firmo, the Royal Bank of Copenhagen, and World Wildlife Foundation, for example."
At the school, students study the theory behind blockchain but turn around and apply that knowledge to real-world projects within the same week. In fact, Ross indicated that applicants must present an idea for a blockchain project to be accepted into the program. Although students are not tied to their ideas upon acceptance, he said that "some of these ideas are chosen as projects that the students will work on in groups during the week."
The program covers all the latest advancements in blockchain technology and does not limit itself to a certain protocol. Ross believes this broad focus provides a holistic look into the blockchain space. He said, "While we do work on Ethereum-based Dapp development we are also collaborating with QTUM's protocol (they are the second biggest blockchain in China) as well as the protocols of Ontology, Hyperledger, and Firmo."
Ross gave a personal account of his time at the school and how it was informed by both academia and business:
"I … participated in the summer school one year with an idea for a KYC for Nordea, the largest bank in Northern Europe. The idea won first prize at the European Blockchain Summit, was published in an academic journal, and then implemented by Nordea as part of their KYC infrastructure and cost-saving strategy. This is just one example of how students of the summer school can have an impact on the academic and business world while deepening their technical knowledge."
Because of the rigorous and technical nature of the school, it primarily targets Ph.D. students, although master's students and industry professionals may be accepted. "Most are Ph.D. students from top universities, but some also come straight from the business world," Ross elaborated. However, he believes it is important for a general audience, not just developers, to learn about blockchain technology, as it touches various aspects of business and industry.
Despite this sentiment, Ross admits that part of what makes the program stand out is its commitment to technical knowledge and application. Not many people understand blockchain technology, nor do they know blockchain-specific coding. He emphasized the importance of technical understanding in the blockchain space, stating:
"This is a particularly important point because any code written on the blockchain is immutable and cannot be easily changed later on. This makes it imperative that the quality and code level of projects is very high. Although there are many conferences in the blockchain space, most are purely focused on marketing and not on teaching people about the technology. The fact that the Blockchain Summer School gives [students] the theoretical perspective with hands-on, real-world applicability is part of what makes the program so successful."
Ross hopes to see the program grow, especially in terms of international presence. He specifically mentioned an increase in North American and Asian students and companies this year, opposed to the predominantly Northern European student body in the previous two sessions. Ross expressed optimism about the future of the school: "We want to see this grow into a global education and collaboration."
The Blockchain Summer School will be held at the Copenhagen Business School from August 13-17.
ETHNews does not endorse the Blockchain Summer School or any other educational programs.