Business students spearhead conference to highlight blockchain technology

October 24, 2018

Saying they want to help students be among the first wave of experts in an emerging world of blockchain technology, two Florida State University College of Business seniors have taken the lead in organizing the inaugural Collegiate Blockchain Conference to explore cryptocurrency and the associated technology known as Blockchain.

The conference will be held Nov. 3 at the Turnbull Conference Center and features speakers from a variety of universities and corporations across the Southeast. IBM executive Jennifer Blair will be the keynote speaker. IBM is the headline sponsor for the event. The College of Business and the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship are additional sponsors.

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FSU College of Business students Derek Strauss and Jonah Baer will be leading their own cryptocurrency conference.


“Seemingly every notable corporation is exploring Blockchain in some capacity; however, there is a drastic shortage of talent,” said Derek Strauss, a finance major, founder of FSU’s Cryptocurrency Club and co-founder of the conference. “We want to help young professionals at Florida State fill these positions and be at the forefront of Blockchain innovation.”

Blockchain is a digital ledger where transactions are recorded chronologically and cannot be altered. Programmable contractual agreements that automatically execute if certain conditions are met can be created through Blockchain, allowing the technology to be applied to a variety of industries, including finance, healthcare, government and supply chain.

Strauss, who is minoring in computer science, and Jonah Baer, a marketing and entrepreneurship major, proposed the FSU conference after Strauss attended the North American Bitcoin Conference last year.

“I remember thinking, ‘What if we did the same thing at Florida State?’ We chatted about it for about five minutes and knew we were on to something,” Baer said.

Noyan Ilk, an assistant professor in the Department of Business Analytics, Information Systems and Supply Chain, said he is pleased to be part of the conference. He will be speaking on transaction fee crisis in the Bitcoin network caused by Bitcoin’s blockchain design and how to overcome this issue.  

“Blockchain enabled technologies have the potential to revolutionize many business sectors, ranging from finance, to e-commerce, and to healthcare,” Ilk said. “This is an immensely timely and valuable conference that will facilitate discussion around these revolutionary technologies while increasing their understanding by the community.”

Said Baer: “Blockchain is such a new concept that you can break into the industry and be considered an expert, and that’s appealing to us. We also think the conference will be a cool legacy for us to leave at FSU.”

By Barbara Ash