Heriot Watt University in Dubai in collaboration with NEM Blockchain foundation and Dubai Silicon Oasis recently carried out the first Inter University Blockchain challenge.
According to Dr. Jelena Janjusevic, Professor at Heriot Watt, “The goal was to primarily increase awareness and knowledge on blockchain technology and its application, via a competition that would motivate students of all UAE universities to participate in to provide innovative ideas and solutions for blockchain technology implementation.”
The challenge officially opened on September 20th 2018, and last month the winners were chosen. According to Dr. Janjusevic more than 100 students from 20 universities across the UAE participated, and 20 ideas where shortlisted.” Students were tasked to create solutions and solve real life problems utilizing the NEM Blockchain in areas such as Government, Academia, Health Care, Land & Transportation, Banking & Finance, Internet of Things, or a Topic of their own choice.
Since NEM Foundation was main partner. NEM provided expertise, trainings and sponsorship for prizes, so one of the criteria for students was to use NEM blockchain platform. According to Dr. Janjusevic, “In the future, we will be looking for other blockchain platform owners to join and thus to expand the project to use of other existing platforms.”
Six finalist teams presented in the final event and although prizes did include financial wins, the students would also have the opportunity to be able to garner investors for their projects, internships, employment etc..)
Dr. Paul Hopkinson, associate head of school of social sciences, Heriot Watt University stated, “ While the university was established in the 19th century and our first graduates where given expertise in what was then clock making industry, today we are a global institution with over 30,000 students and we are preparing students for the demands of the 4th industrial revolution.” He adds “You’ll see this reflected in our teaching approaches and programs which include Master’s degrees in topics such Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Digital Marketing, and Robotics.”
The first prize winner was Autochain a blockchain application that incorporates data and historical information on vehicles. The information includes car ownership transfer, car inspection, car insurance, and finance. The solution was built by student from BITS Pilani University, Dubai who received AED 55,000 in cash prizes.
Second place winner was Smart Detector, from the student team at Manipal University, Dubai Campus who received AED 36,000.Smart Detector is an application that uses blockchain technology to detect counterfeit drugs.
Third place winner was SolarGridX, as well from BITS Pilani University in Dubai .They received AED 18,000. SolarGridX is an exchange platform where people can buy and sell virtual ownership of solar panels.
According to Dr. Jelena Janjusevic, competitions such as this are crucial for expanding these technologies as students enter into the labor market. She states, “Education needs to be in line with the job market and industrial needs of the future and these challenges bring together businesses with educational institutions.”