The wave blockchain is catching up fast with Penn. This semester, Wharton offers its first full blockchain full course for undergraduate and graduate students.
The course, "Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Distributed Ledger Technology", is a hybrid class co-taught by Wharton professor Kevin Werbach and engineering professor David Crosbie.
The creation of a blockchain and cryptocurrency course was something that the professors had in mind for a while, but the two said they had decided to wait to announce a course until they were sure there was information more substantial to teach.
"There's a lot of business going on, but to teach a course there must be real material to teach instead of getting you to show people selling Bitcoins," Werbach said.
The course has proved extremely popular with students. It currently has the fourth highest compensation price – the relative supply and demand for available seats – of any course offered at Wharton, on top of the school's bidding system on which MBA students select their courses.
This semester, the course is limited to 52 students. Werbach said that if a space had been created for each student interested in enrolling, there would be a couple of hundred students in the course.
The popularity of the course reflects the strong demand for skills related to blockchain in the workforce. Currently in Linkedin, there are about 4,500 job openings with the terms "blockchain", "bitcoin" or "cryptocurrency" – marking a 151 percent increase since 2017. Google search requests for the keyword "blockchain" have increased 250 percent in the last year.
"What drives students to take this course is the industry demand for students with this skill, but the skills do not have to be applied directly," said Crosby. He added that many MBA students see that there are numerous companies that want to hire people familiar with blockchain, but that there is hardly anyone who has the appropriate training for the skills.
Werbach said he was inclined to deal with the blockchain theme because of the growing passion of his students for the growing market.
"I started seeing a lot of students a year ago coming to me with their blockchain-based startups, and I was dragged to help them start the Penn Blockchain Club," he said. "There's an advantage in looking at these things and reacting soon."
Penn's growing interest in the blockchain is also evident with the recent university partnership with the Cryptocurrency payments network in San Francisco. Penn is one of 17 universities worldwide that launched the $ 50 million multi-year research and development initiative launched by Ripple.
As part of the Ripple & # 39; s University Blockchain Research Initiative, according to Werbach's statement, Penn will receive a portion of the $ 50 to spend on research by faculty, scholarships for graduate students and progress curriculum related to blockchain and cryptocurrency .
Ripple provided some of the funding for the development of the full credit blockchain course curriculum. Werbach, however, stated that the course was not developed solely on the basis of Ripple money. He added that the recent partnership and the introduction of a new blockchain course reflect the growing level of interest and activity around Penn's blockchain.
The co-president of Penn Blockchain Club and young Wharton and Engineering Aaron Diamond Reivich said he was enthusiastic about the professors involved in teaching and blockchain research.
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Both Crosby and Werbach said that the blockchain learning at Penn began with the Blockchain Penn Club, for which they are both counselors. The club, which now has over 350 members, started out primarily as an educational institution that encouraged students to focus on studying the blockchain rather than investing in the cryptocurrency itself, they said.
"On campus there were many people who were enthusiastic about the ideas of the blockchain and the promises of the blockchain," said Reivich. "But there was not a place where they could learn about it."
"[Since blockchain] is in such an early stage that there are so many opportunities to really make an impact," said Reivich. "If you go into some of these more consolidated fields, of course you could get to innovate but you're not really on the front line."