Within the Rutgers Business School (RBS), Blockchain Hub is a new student-run initiative that revolves around educating and training students on blockchain technology, which is a record of data that is not owned by a single entity.
Won Gyun No, an assistant professor in the Department of Accounting and Information Systems, said blockchain can record almost anything that can be digitally represented, such as transactions, values, goods and ownership. The technology can also be applied to a variety of industries, such as healthcare, insurance and government.
Christian Buren, a Rutgers Business School junior and current president of Blockchain Hub, first became aware of the technology in the Fall 2017. At the time, he said the cryptocurrency Bitcoin was quickly gaining traction for its steep rise in price.
“After seeing so many people who didn’t know anything about tech making ludicrous amounts of money off of this, I knew something had to be here. From reading about Bitcoin I came across the word ‘blockchain’ quite a lot, as it is the technology that underpins the Bitcoin network,” Buren said.
The theory behind blockchain and its real-world applications eventually led Buren to officially bring blockchain education to Rutgers, via Blockchain Hub.
Varun Vasudevan, a Rutgers Business School first-year and the current vice president of Blockchain Hub added that the most well-known use of blockchain is Bitcoin, which is a secure way of transferring money without needing to trust a centralized authority, such as a bank.
Besides cryptocurrency, blockchain has numerous other real-world applications.
“It can also be used to create contracts online without people having to worry about the contents of the contract being changed (these are known as smart contracts), and it can be used to track where products came from in a supply chain,” he said.
For Vasudevan, the prospect of being ahead of the curve for an emerging technology garnered his interest.
“It's almost like being skilled with the internet before it was widely adopted. In fact, the demand for blockchain engineers has increased by a staggering 517% over the past year, according to Hired.com. I helped create the RBS Blockchain Hub because I want to help train other Rutgers students for careers in this highly lucrative field,” Vasudevan said.
Blockchain Hub plans to foster collaboration between undergraduates, graduates and PhD students, and the initiative has already established a partnership with the Accounting Information Systems PhD department.
Buren’s plan is for PhD students to lead biweekly workshops to teach the basics of blockchain. In between these workshops, board members will lead break-out sessions to help explore specific areas within the blockchain sphere. Additionally, Buren hopes to provide students with guest speakers, hackathon events and free tickets for blockchain-related conferences, such as the MIT Bitcoin Expo and BEN NYC Mastermind Dinner.
Blockchain Hub is also part of the Blockchain Education Network, “which is an organization that can help us connect with blockchain clubs at other universities,” Vasudevan said. Some of these schools include the University of Michigan, Cornell and UC Berkeley.
No believes Blockchain Hub will not only help students learn the fundamentals of blockchain technology, but also acquire an understanding of how blockchain technology will impact the current business processes as well as providing a potential edge in the job market.
Blockchain Hub plans to officially launch in the Fall 2019 semester where the members hope to attract many prospective students.
“Blockchain is where business is headed. By offering blockchain education at Rutgers Business School, we’re preparing the next generation of business people, computer scientists, engineers and economists who will implement blockchain infrastructure to make a more secure and efficient world,” Buren said.