New Blockchain Technology on appears on UA campus

By Hermon Negash

The Razorback Reporter

The Walton College of Business has scheduled what organizers call a Blockchain Hackathon, Oct. 27-28 in downtown Fayetteville.

Students of all technical experience levels will work together to solve various problems that will be provided by sponsoring companies such as Walmart, J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., ArcBest and Tyson Foods. IBM also will sponsor the event and its cloud platform will be utilized.

“Teams will work together to develop a functional blockchain business network utilizing the Hyperledger architecture running on the world-class IBM cloud platform,” said Zach Steelman, assistant professor in the Department of Information Systems at Walton College.

The sponsors will challenge participants to work on real-world problems given by companies and solve them using blockchain technologies, according to the website.

Blockchains are a fairly new form of technology that creates an online record of transactions that anyone can view and alter but does not belong to one single person.

“Blockchain technology offers a secure and verifiable way to maintain an encrypted accounting ledger of transactions,” said Paul Cronan, an Information Systems professor at Walton College.

The distribution of the transactions creates redundancy and a system of accountability, Cronan said. Information cannot go from one place to another without being verified. This allows for blockchains to be extremely secure, contrary to the competition name, Blockchain Hackathon. Blockchains can drastically change how businesses interact with partners and customers by creating a trust in the system, Steelman said.

Some say that blockchains could be so substantial that it could compare to the introduction of the internet, Cronan said, although he said he thought it was too early to make a statement of that magnitude. He also said the technology is very promising.

The competition is scheduled to take place at the Brewer Family Entrepreneurship Hub, 123 W. Mountain St., Fayetteville.

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