This summer Illinois Tech is debuting a new class designed to place students ahead of the curve on blockchain technology, which is projected to be a $9.7 billion industry by 2021, according to the International Data Corporation.
Blockchain technologies—distributed ledgers secured by cryptography—are behind the rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and have hundreds of other potential applications that could reshape the way people vote, bank, and make online transactions.
Adjunct Industry Professor of Information Technology and Management William Slater, who has been studying the blockchain and cryptocurrencies since 2012, says the new class will help students understand and further develop this innovative new software platform.
“This is one of the most exciting emerging technologies,” Slater says. “It could quite literally change the way we do business, and our students need to be prepared for that.”
As these technologies continue to evolve and businesses adopt them, Slater says a fundamental understanding of the blockchain and cryptography are essential to keep up with the demands of employers. In his class, students will learn the basics of the blockchain and cryptography, and how they can use these technologies in their future careers.
“What I expect students will be able to do after this class is go join a development team and solve real-world problems using this technology,” Slater says.
In Illinois, blockchain is being explored in the highest levels of government; the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology is looking into ways to harness blockchain tech in a bid to create “a highly efficient, hyper-connected, and secure government,” the department announced earlier this year.
Slater says he hopes students, armed with this new knowledge, will be able to be a part of that evolution.
“We have so many talented students here at Illinois Tech and so many opportunities being on the Silicon Prairie,” Slater says. “Not only with this class, but with other classes in the School of Applied Technology, we want to teach our students what they need to know to innovate in tomorrow’s world.”