In an exciting reprise of the old Wild West days, Wyoming is forging trails in new territory. In 2020, the University of Wyoming established the Wyoming Advanced Blockchain Laboratory (WABL). This spring, WABL launched a Cardano staking pool, which has minted 180 blocks and counting.
This is a wonderful opportunity for students to gain real-world experience with cutting-edge technology. Furthermore, the learning is fully cross-disciplinary: Initial pledge to the pool was provided by the College of Business Portfolio Management class; these students will stay hands-on with their investment, examining stake parameters to advise and optimize returns. The Department of Accounting and Finance has also jumped in, taking the opportunity to learn about the new world of digital market assets, profitability, sustainability, and more. In the lab itself, computer science students and researchers will analyze the behavior of the network, learn to code blockchain contracts, and explore the ins and outs of decentralization.
The founding grant for the lab came from Cardano’s IOHK, and was doubled by matching funds from the state of Wyoming. One of Cardano’s distinguishing marks is that it was originally designed based on peer-reviewed research. We are delighted to see continued investment in education and research as a demonstrated core value of the Cardano team.
We are eager to hear more about the results at WABL in the future, but many positive outcomes can already be foreseen. Benefits for the University include financial rewards from the staking pool, real-world experience for students, a lively lab subject for researchers, and the ability to attract talented students to an institution that is leading in the field. Researchers in any field will testify that a live test subject, with the challenges and opportunities it brings, is invaluable for groundbreaking research! For the Cardano network, benefits include the exposure to thought leaders, educators, and the next generation of developers. Moreover, results of the University’s research will feed back to the Cardano ecosystem, providing valuable insights to guide the next iterations of the platform.
Other Universities are slowly getting on the blockchain bandwagon. These include the University of Edinburgh in the UK, which has also partnered with IOHK to study Cardano. Other Universities with blockchain labs are Arizona State University and Howard University in Washington, D.C. Based on Google search results, it appears that most university offerings are currently limited to 6 week “blockchain short courses”. As far as our knowledge and Google searches could reveal, Wyoming is at present the only university with a live staking pool on any network. We expect that the number of serious academic departments studying blockchain technology is going to grow rapidly in the very near future. We are eager for the energy and insight that this will bring to the scene!