RALEIGH – Thanks to a new collaboration between IBM and Wake Technical Community College, Data Science and Computer Programming students  will now have access to enroll in the “Zero to Blockchain” course, which is accredited by the institution.

“Working with IBM on blockchain technology offers students hands-on, real world experience, through practice, problem solving and mentoring with experts,” said Dr. Stephen Scott, president of Wake Tech, in a statement. “This is the kind of training that Wake Tech excels in, preparing students with advanced learning and significant skills training which will lead to real jobs in a competitive marketplace.”

Blockchain workflow (Graphic courtesy of the Center for Global Development)

Blockchain workflow (Graphic courtesy of the Center for Global Development)

Blockchain—a transparent and shared digital ledger—is transforming business processes and transactions by enabling transparency and trust. Blockchain is best known as the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, yet its uses go far beyond that, and many startups in North Carolina are working to capitalize on the emerging technology. Beyond startups, organizations of all sizes from a wide selection of industries including banking and financial services, retail, and logistics are using blockchain for transactions.

Earlier Monday, IBM announced plans for a blockchain proof-of-concept project that could become a platform for financial institutions.

The Wake Tech course offering is a part of the “New Collar Jobs” initiative that IBM announced last year. Designed to create new jobs—those that did not exist a decade ago and do not necessarily require a traditional four-year university degree. Raleigh and Wake Tech were targeted as part of this outreach to train more students for skilled positions in fast growing technology fields including security, analytics, AI and blockchain, said the company in a statement.

IBM offers Wake Tech Students expertise and mentoring

The Zero to Blockchain course will run for eight weeks and was developed by IBM distinguished engineer Bob Dill. The course includes virtual and classroom learning and will be facilitated by Wake Tech Professor Hong Cui at the new Wake Tech RTP Campus in Morrisville, N.C. that opened this summer to support growing IT programs and technology.

Upon successful completion of the Zero to Blockchain course, students will design and develop a course project using Hyperledger Composer to implement the blockchain technology.

Hyperledger Composer, a project of The Linux Foundation, can help developers or students design, create, test, and demonstrate permissioned blockchain applications in a “sandbox” environment, without the need to know specific programming languages.

As part of the project, students will work in teams to design the architecture of a course registration network. This includes defining its various applications such as enrollment as well as the participants involved such as students, parents, cashier, registrar, and the loan provider. Students also will determine and implement the transactions that occur within the registration network, such as enroll course, drop course, pay tuition, accept loan, get refund to ultimately deploy the network and test the registration transactions. IBM employees and executives in the Research Triangle area will serve as judges for the capstone projects.

Students will also have the opportunity to participate in an IBM mentorship program where they will be able to experience the job application process, mock interviewing and life after graduation. IBM will also share technical expertise with faculty for the duration of the course. Through these activities, students will be able to earn a co-branded IBM Wake Tech blockchain badge that indicates an understanding of blockchain principles and practices and how they can be applied within a business environment. Badges are verified digital credentials for recognition skill, achievement, and contribution.

IBM operates one of its largest corporate campuses in Research Triangle Park and employs several thousand people across North Carolina.