UCLA is preparing to offer its first blockchain engineering course starting in January 2019 thanks to a donation to the university by MouseBelt Blockchain Accelerator. Previously, the university has offered blockchain and cryptocurrency seminars through the Anderson School of Management, but this is the first UCLA course focused on technical blockchain programming. The class will be run by Professor John Villasenor, who is a professor of electrical and computer engineering, management, and public policy, as well as a visiting professor of law. The students assisting with the course are computer science undergraduates Andrew Battat and Jason Huan. They have been teaching and running workshops about blockchain through the student organization Blockchain at UCLA.
Regarding this collaboration, TA Jason Huan says
I believe that this is an amazing opportunity for us to support the blockchain ecosystem not only within UCLA, but also in universities across the world.
The course will be offered as a 4-credit special topics course, counting as an upper division elective requirement that students majoring in Computer Science as well as Electrical and Computer Engineering can apply to their degree. The pilot course aims to invigorate both student and administrative engagement into blockchain within UCLA, with the hopes of establishing a permanent blockchain programming course in the future.
Topics to be covered in the course include an overview of blockchain concepts, hash functions, public key cryptography, digital signatures, proof of work, proof of stake, the Solidity programming language, Ethereum, the Ethereum virtual machine, decentralized applications (Dapps), smart contracts, and tokens. TA Andrew Battat looks forward to going in-depth on these topics noting that
When it comes to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, and especially blockchain, it’s easy to get lost in the buzzwords surrounding these technologies and completely ignore the technology itself. I feel fortunate as an educator to be able to help students push past this jargon and get to the core of what blockchain actually is.
We will also be involved in crafting the syllabus and providing guest lectures and workshops. We hope to introduce the students to our open source blockchain tools and provide exclusive support as they use them to complete projects for the course.
Additionally, we will be offering our resources as a blockchain accelerator to work closely with those students who are working on their projects and starting companies. We've talked with over 35 student blockchain organizations and many of them expressed the desire to expand their programs to the point where they can create labs to incubate projects. This partnership with UCLA will allow these schools to become a hub of blockchain innovation in their region.
At MouseBelt Blockchain Accelerator we believe that blockchain has the potential to change the world and that by supporting students we can encourage growth and innovation in the space. We’re building a community of universities from all over the world enabling students to collaborate, share their ideas, and enhance their understanding of blockchain through our University Program. We are committed to enhancing the developer community and see more real-world application projects built. Funding this course is a perfect way to encourage students to choose careers in blockchain and contribute their talent to the industry.