- Approximately 100 University of Arkansas students will participate in a blockchain "hackathon" Oct. 27 to 28, competing to solve business challenges with the new technology, according to the Sam M. Walton College of Business' news outlet.
- Twenty to twenty-five teams of students will participate in the challenge, and collaborate on creating a functional blockchain network to address problems posed by the event's sponsors: IBM, J.B. Hunt Transport, Tyson Foods and Walmart.
- The teams will compete for $2,000 in gifts and prizes, but gain valuable experience working with a technology that could prove transformational for many Fortune 500 companies, according to Zach Steelman, assistant professor in the Department of Information Systems at the Walton College.
The blockchain hackathon shows an innovative use of academia to address industry problems and speed supply chain innovation.
"Just as every individual on a team for an organizational development project brings their own skills, experience, and expertise to the table, having participants from a variety of majors across the university provides the ability to view the use-case challenges from multiple angles and develop innovative solutions," Steelman told Supply Chain Dive over e-mail.
"(The participants') projects will vary in complexity and functionality but will provide a strong foundation for potential projects that students can then bring into the classroom to further refine in their courses and continue to push forward as potential solutions for our industry partners and others," he said.
In fact, the use of blockchain ledger technology is expanding so rapidly it could become a course of study.
The variety of applications for blockchain is growing, from confirming reservations for shippers on cargo freight carriers to implementing the SOLAS compliance requirements, in which items being shipped by sea are weighed in advance and confirmed. Supply chains especially have welcomed the technology with enthusiasm, finding use in areas from real estate to retail.
"This event is both a learning environment and development environment that allows participants to gain an understanding of foundational blockchain technologies, view how organizations are looking at blockchain solutions for potential use cases, and begin dipping their toes into blockchain development," said Steelman.
The hackathon is not the first time the University of Arkansas has partnered with industry partners to develop new use cases for emerging technology. During a recent reporting trip, Supply Chain Dive learned the Starship Technologies last-mile delivery robot roaming cities like Washington, D.C., was brought to the U.S. market through a university partnership, and J.B. Hunt is also backing an innovation center at the school.