University of Wyoming Establishes Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation

The University of Wyoming (UW) has launched a Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation.

As mentioned on UW’s website:

“Wyoming is a pioneer state known for firsts. In recent years, the state passed groundbreaking legislation to create a regulatory environment to foster blockchain application growth and diversify the economy.” 

The announcement also noted that the University is establishing a new Center for blockchain or distributed ledger tech (DLT) and digital innovation so that they can offer appropriate training programs to the state’s upcoming workforce.

As explained by the University of Wyoming, a blockchain is a digital or online record of transactions in which each transaction gets added to the chain after it has been verified by several independently functioning computers (commonly referred to as nodes).

Blockchain or DLT has been used to issue decentralized cryptocurrencies or digital assets. However, it has many other applications such as its use to enhance supply chain processes and digital payment and settlement systems. Many large enterprises currently use the DLT networks in ID verification systems and trade finance applications (among other use cases).

Steven Lupien, Adjunct Professor of Finance and Director of the new UW Digital Innovation Center, stated:

“This tech is going to fundamentally change the way businesses and consumers operate in the future, very much like the internet did.”

There are several other universities with their own blockchain or DLT centers. They include Arizona State University, the University of Arkansas, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Duke University, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of Texas-Austin.

Caitlin Long, the CEO at Avanti, a digital asset focused bank that recently received regulatory approval to offer services in Wyoming, stated:

“UW is in rarefied air. We’re working with some of the top scientific universities in the country.”

Long has served on the Wyoming Blockchain Task Force and currently chairs UW’s WyoHackathon. She has been working cooperatively with Wyoming State legislators including Rep. Tyler Lindholm and Sen. Chris Rothfuss. Long has helped with establishing important blockchain-related legislation in Wyoming.

She added:

“It’s about economic diversification. It’s always been about jobs and bringing in outside capital to the state. Now, we’ll have employers looking for UW graduates.”

UW President Ed Seidel remarked:

“This new center supports three of the four pillars we’ve established to guide the university: being more computational, interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial….The university is committed to helping drive future economic development in Wyoming, and this center has incredible potential to do so.”

College of Business Dean Dave Sprott said that the university will offer a minor at the undergraduate level that will be “open to any major by next fall.” The university may also offer technical graduate certificates and a joint law and master’s degree.

In February 2020, the University of Wyoming was awarded a $500,000 gift in Cardano’s ADA tokens from IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong), which is an organization supporting the Charles Hoskinson led Cardano blockchain project. The award has been doubled to $1 million through a state matching program. The donation from IOHK will reportedly be used to set up a blockchain or DLT lab in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

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