This weekend, a Johns Hopkins University student-run organization will host a free Web3-focused event that includes a panel of VC investors accepting attendees’ project proposals.
Blockchain@Hopkins‘s Web3 Conference takes place on Saturday, between 4 and 7 p.m. at the university’s FastForward U building in Remington. It is intended for an audience with mixed levels of blockchain technology experience. To that end, the conference boasts panelists like VC investors Daniel Niklas and Porter Smith of Picus Capital and Andreessen Horowitz‘s a16z Crypto fund, respectively. Dr. Jim Liew, an associate professor at Hopkins who teaches a class on blockchain, will also participate in the panel.
Blockchain@Hopkins founder Rohit Bhat said that the event aims to help anyone interested in Web3 understand that it’s really about new protocols for the internet, and not just NFTs.
“If you’re coming from a naive standpoint, it’s hard to know or feel like somebody’s not trying to get money from you,” Bhat told Technical.ly. “A big part of what we’re doing is making the information available to everyone. They can come, they can learn. It’s a place to ask questions.”
Bhat has been working with blockchain technology for five years. He’ll graduate with a master’s degree in cybersecurity in two weeks; Come fall, he will start a Ph.D. program in computer science, with a focus on blockchain technology, at UCLA. David Thomas, a first-year computer science major at Hopkins and Blockchain@Hopkins’s president, will take over the organization after Bhat graduates.
Both leaders’ parents are serial entrepreneurs. Bhat learned about blockchain through a friend who introduced him to Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto‘s book, “The Book of Satoshi,” while Thomas found out about the Web3 building blocks from his mother. Thomas used his subsequent learning to start Tyze, his own company that uses blockchain to support a real estate stock market.
While the upcoming conference will largely center around decentralized finance, the organizers plan to have a broad conversation about what blockchain is — and what Web3 can be.
“We have cryptography professors and people that have never bought cryptocurrency before [coming to the conference],” Thomas said. “We hope to make it so everyone gets something out of it. Both towards the beginning of the discussion and the end of the discussion, we will have points that will be valuable to people that have never touched blockchain before.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.