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Global Blockchain Education Initiative with Barbados Cryptocurrency Course

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Blockchain research and development company IOHK has announced that it has successfully wrapped up its second programming school, ‘Haskell and Cryptocurrencies’. The eight-week school, held at the University of the West Indies in cryptocurrency-friendly Barbados, saw IOHK train 10 university students free of charge. The school provided the students with theoretical and hands-on experience in Haskell, a rigorous programming language used for mission-critical applications and protocols, including the Cardano blockchain. In a related announcement, IOHK will donate $10,000 USD to the department of Computer Science at the University of the West Indies, where the course was taught, as well as $5,000 USD to the university’s Housing Services, and $4,500 USD to two students in scholarships and living expenses.

Industry demand for developers using Haskell is growing due to its suitability for blockchain development. IOHK intends to offer the most promising graduates of the school full-time developer roles at IOHK. The Barbados school has seen the second time the course has run, after it was first offered in Athens, Greece last July. The course concluded on the 2nd of March, with a ceremony attended by leaders in government and industry.

IOHK Director of Education, Dr. Lars Brünjes, who taught the course, said: “Building on the experience we gathered with the first iteration of this course in Athens in the summer of 2017, we have now taught Haskell and cryptocurrencies to another group of talented young people in Barbados. The course gave a thorough and hands-on introduction to the Haskell language and its application to cryptocurrencies, the theoretical foundations, best practices, common libraries, important language extensions and advanced features. By working on a number of both small and sizeable assignments — chosen from the cryptocurrency domain where possible — the participants got their hands dirty, learning how to write idiomatic and elegant Haskell code on their own. After successfully completing the course, each participant should be able to start working as a professional junior Haskell developer.”

In addition to lectures, the course provided students with the opportunity to take on challenging programming projects with real-world applications, such as creating a peer-to-peer network or creating a ‘handshake’ with a Bitcoin node. This combination of theoretical background and practical programming gave students on-the-job training that will put them in an ideal position for securing jobs as Haskell developers. On a broader scale, the course aimed to reduce the global Haskell skills shortage, empowering a new generation of skilled developers to create advanced, highly secure code to further the growth of the cryptocurrency industry.

IOHK will offer graduates from the program the opportunity to join the company full-time as part of its newly created Barbados Haskell team. This team will complement IOHK’s existing global network of blockchain research and development laboratories that bring together academics and students to collaborate on industry-inspired problems.

Brünjes added: “As blockchain continues to secure its place as one of the fastest growing industries in the world, demand for developers who know Haskell has never been more intense. Since the language is taught far less than traditional programming languages such as Java, IOHK saw an opportunity to bridge the gap in the market and provide students with the chance to learn the intricacies of Haskell. We’re excited to have further iterations of the course down the road and extend IOHK’s global education network to welcome a new generation of advanced developers,”.

IOHK plans to offer the course in additional locations, including Africa, to boost skill development in new and emerging markets and provide opportunities for growth in more regions.

Matthew Warner
Based near Windsor, England, Matthew Warner is an enthusiast for innovative, cutting edge technologies. He is a B.Eng. graduate in engineering with honors from the University of Warwick and also holds an PGCE in education degree. Matthew is a member of Mensa.