Blockchain Hackathon

Charles Fowler
Consider the word “blockchain”. If you recognize it, you might think of crypto-currencies like BitCoin. But over the past month, 10 of our students discovered that it’s an emerging technology with the potential to make over the way we do banking, insurance and any number of other fields from journalism to voting.
Then they built something using that technology, pitching their product to a panel of judges.

Along with UCC, BSS, Havergal and Holy Trinity School, the RSGC team took part in an event called Hack 4 Change. With expert guidance from an international firm, the Blockchain Learning Group, teams spent a day identifying a problem in the field of social justice or innovation, and coming up with a solution. Then, a core group of coders spent three days in intensive training on the blockchain, learning how to write code that takes advantage of it. 
Teams re-assembled for a three-day challenge, with the coders building the actual solution, while other team members designed a graphic identity and prepared a presentation. Along the way, for some real-world insight, they met twice with Duncan Brown ’11, an old boy who won a similar hackathon-type competition right out of university and built a business actually based on the blockchain.

Our team identified the problem of immigrants to Canada who have university credentials, but because they can’t prove it, end up working below their potential. They found statistics on how many people this affects, and the considerable impact this would have on our GDP if they earned what they’re qualified for. So the team proposed a web-based tool where a person could request a transcript from their university, which would respond by uploading a copy – all in a setting that is secure, impossible to forge, and tamper-proof, all because of the blockchain that underpins it.

The guys were remarkable – taking initiative, fluidly distributing the work of the project among smaller sub-groups as necessary. They turned the heads of the organizers, exceeding the expected scope of the project and making use of additional features of the blockchain.