A Commitment to Education: the Cardano Foundation strengthens ties with the University of Zurich
The Cardano Foundation has partnered with the University of Zurich (UZH) to sponsor a PhD position in Blockchain Analytics. The PhD will explore the economic functions of UTXO based blockchain in collaboration with the Cardano Foundation and the Blockchain Data Observatory at the UZH.
The PhD sponsorship builds on a partnership announced earlier this year between the Cardano Foundation and the Blockchain Center of the University of Zurich (UZH BCC), one of the leading research universities in Europe. It will see both sides cooperating over the next three years to explore the development of blockchain education and research initiatives, and in doing so help spearhead the transformative potential of blockchain.
The development comes as part of a wider partnership between the Foundation and the UZH, which this week was ranked as one of the top three universities in the world to study blockchain. As the guardians of Cardano, the first blockchain founded on peer-reviewed research, we fully believe in the power of education as well as in high level academic research
A PhD at the frontier of blockchain research
At the heart of the partnership between the Cardano Foundation and the Blockchain Center at UZH is a will to research the social, economic and technical aspects of blockchain technologies viewed through an interdisciplinary lens. The successful PhD candidate starts in early October 2022, and will conduct research while working closely with our Foundation by delving deep into the blockchain analytics of UTXO-based blockchains to uncover their economic functioning.
The Cardano-sponsored PhD comes as another example of the Foundation’s commitment to supporting research and education on blockchain. Frederik Gregaard, CEO of the Cardano Foundation, pointed to the significant importance of the UZH partnership, an opportunity that will help both sides to support and learn from each other for decades to come.
In a wide ranging chat with Gregaard, Dr. Claudio Tessone, Professor of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies at the University of Zurich, further expounded on some key topics such as blockchain adoption, decentralization, and the role of universities in supporting blockchain learning and research.
The partnership also builds on the Foundation’s core values as we seek to support academic research, strengthen ties with educators and innovators, and build the blockchain out for enterprise deployment. A mature blockchain, with sound technology and capable of complying with regulators’ expectations, can better support the adoption at scale by legacy businesses and thus help foster positive change among financial and social systems.
A summer of open source learning
For the second year now, the Cardano Foundation collaborated with the UZH for its International Blockchain Summer School. Students participating in the Summer School learned about Cardano and its ecosystem as well as gained a greater understanding of the possibilities and use cases for blockchain technology.
In fact, this educational partnership aims to provide the wider blockchain community with expert insights, analysis, and the best tools to build and develop blockchain solutions. Governance and blockchain utility are two other top priorities for the partnership, with research exploring different angles on the central questions surrounding Cardano as a secure, scalable, and decentralized system.
The three-week Summer School course—officially titled “A Deep Dive into Blockchain”—covered a number of topics and case studies that included technology but also governance. It was delivered by Professor Tessone and offered guest lectures from both the Cardano Foundation and IOHK.
The course provided a hands-on learning experience in areas around NFT mining and applications of data analytics, as well as a thorough overview of the different protocols behind blockchain architecture. It is a comprehensive course and each year attracts a lengthy waiting list of participants looking to gain greater insights and understanding into blockchain.
Jeremy Firster, Head of Partnerships and Executive Officer at the Cardano Foundation, provided students with an expansive outline of Cardano, describing the key features and functions of the Cardano protocol.
Firster further covered the Ouroboros proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus protocol, expounded the advantages of PoS over proof of work (PoW), and spoke to the importance of Stake Pools for decentralization. Likewise, Firster provided details about native assets and tokenization on Cardano, Cardano’s architecture, economic identity, and on-chain utility. He also addressed the use of smart contracts for high assurance applications and considered not only the uniqueness of Project Catalyst but also how it plays a key role in bringing on-chain governance to the Cardano blockchain.
Another component of the Summer School was dedicated to NFTs, from concept to creation. Christian Pasquel, CTO and co-founder of Imperium, an NFT marketplace, guided students through the process of minting NFTs on Cardano in a series of workshops and lectures. Students were subsequently able to see their NFTs displayed inside the metaverse.
Making blockchain work for everyone
In a second lecture, Firster explored the concept of Digital Identity using blockchain. Besides covering programmable transparency and the importance of verification systems in mission-critical applications, the discussion similarly focused on supply chain traceability and anti-counterfeiting. These discussions tie in with blockchain-based innovations which the Cardano Foundation is at the forefront of promoting as we help utilize blockchain solutions to bolster traceability and anti-counterfeiting measures.
This month, the Cardano Foundation formed a new partnership with Georgia’s National Wine Agency, the Bolnisi Winemakers Association and Scantrust to create a solution on the Cardano blockchain to ensure the quality and authenticity of Georgian wine. This builds on a previous partnership with Baia’s Wine, another Georgian vineyard seeking to improve upon authenticity and security. Enterprise solutions offer a means to show students at the Summer School how blockchain is being rolled out in the world.
Also at the Summer School, IOHK delivered a lecture on Marlowe, a language developed for writing and executing financial smart contracts on the blockchain. Marlowe has been designed for experts in the field of financial contracts or business, especially those without programming experience as it allows users to build contracts visually and in more traditional code.
Omer Husain, Marlowe Project Manager, found the Summer School provided an ideal place for students to learn and experiment on the Marlowe Playground. In addition, Husain highlighted the student’s curiosity about how the contract created affordances and constraints.
Participants in the International Blockchain Summer School received digital certification created by the Cardano Foundation using the newly created 1870 metadata standard for verifiable achievements and credentials. Furthermore, the certificates had an NFT counterpart, with the creation of the NFT and the minting process. These certificates are the first compliant Open Badge minted on Cardano, and mark a major milestone for blockchain and education to verify achievements and academic credentials.
The Cardano Foundation remains firmly committed to education and the advancement of blockchain technology. The far-reaching partnership with UZH follows these efforts, not only by sponsoring innovative postgraduate courses focused on blockchain but also by encouraging the next generation of students to delve both into the technology and the ideas powering blockchain.