Portland State designing a blockchain certificate program
Author: By Malia Spencer – Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal
Posted: October 2, 2018
 Portland State's business and computer science schools are building a blockchain certificate program that trains students in an emerging technology that's all the buzz in the business world.

The work comes as business, education and economic development leaders in the state push to make Oregon a hub for blockchain development and expertise.

PSU is still in the early development stage, said Cliff Allen, the business school's dean. The program, in the works for 18 months, could launch either next year or in the 2020 academic year.

When the program launches, Allen expects between 30 to 40 students across graduate and undergrad to participate.

The graduate and under-grad certificate program would operate much like a declared subject minor in that students take between 16 to 24 credit hours, or five to six classes, addressing narrow topics. PSU is deciding which classes would be included in the program.

“There is a very technical track with the (existing) relational database issues employers have as far as traditional structures and (enterprise resource planning), that is where the computer science folks fit in," Allen said. "Then on the business side (it’s) how blockchain works and cryptography and how ledgers work.”

The University of California, Berkeley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have launched similar programs.

PSU is working closely with businesses behind the Oregon Blockchain Venture Studio, a consortium aimed at making Oregon a hub of blockchain activity. The OBVS effort is backed by the state as well as large employers like Nike Inc., Intel Corp., and Oregon Health and Science University.

“At the end of the day, blockchain is highly advanced technology and requires a highly skilled workforce,” said OBVS founder Jeff Gaus.

Allen said there's strong interest in exploring blockchain.

“It’s pervasive and it’s coming,” he said of the technology. “This isn’t like Y2K where everyone overreacted and nothing happened. This is happening already. Companies are already installing blockchain into what they are doing.”

He likened the shift in business around blockchain to that of big data and analytics which, “became important and then became part of everything we do.”