The University of Arkansas 2018 Blockchain Hackathon brought over 100 students from the area to the UA Fayetteville campus to compete for prizes and gifts in teams while solving real world cases provided by area companies. UAFS College of Business and College of STEM students participated in the two-day event which was held September 28th- 29th in the UA Arkansas (Student) Union.
COB students Alex Ellis and Jackeline Henriquez joined STEM colleagues to form a team to address case studies submitted by companies. The full team, with majors included:
- Alex Ellis - Accounting/Finance (COB)
- Jackeline Henriquez- Finance (COB)
- Cesar Cuevas - Information Technology/ Data Analytics; Minor- Math (STEM)
- Renae Fisher - Information Technology/ Data Analytics (STEM)
- Zachary Upchurch - Information Technology/ Programming; Minor- Statistics (STEM)
Companies participated by providing business cases and assisted teams in understanding the issues involved in arriving at a solution using blockchain technology. Organizations involved included ArcBest, Credera, Heifer International, IBM, J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., Tyson Foods, Startup Junkie, the State of Arkansas, and Walmart.
The UAFS team chose the ArcBest case which required a trustworthy, paperless solution to the traditional bill-of-lading process through the use of “smart contracts”. The team worked to understand the existing process and then recreate the process using blockchain.
While the team did not win the competition, it agreed it was a good learning experience.
Alex stated, “It was interesting to learn about blockchain, but the real value from the competition came from the relationships built with the technology students. I know how difficult it can be to speak with non-accounting students from my internship experiences, and I felt I gained real value by working with students from a technical background to build a real-world solution.”
Jackeline expressed a similar positive experience from partipating in the event, “A week and half prior to the event, I had absolutely no clue what blockchain technology was.” She went on to note, “I gained knowledge and became aware of this new technology.”
“Most importantly, we got the opportunity to learn and work together with our fellow IT students. We experienced first-hand how our complementary expertise would help us develop an adequate solution to better serve the needs of the company,” Henriquez concluded.