Hosting the CME, the Cboe and many investment funds, Chicago is an American and global financial trading powerhouse. As such it should come as no surprise that students in the region are clamoring to learn about a major part of the economy of the future, bitcoin.
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Finance, business and computer science students in Illinois are demanding to learn more about bitcoin and the technology that powers it – and university professors are showing they are up for the challenge.
While in the recent past discussions about bitcoin were left to the end of the semester as a fun afterthought, learning about cryptocurrency is today an integral part of finance studies. “My students are starting the class thinking about it now,” DePaul University assistant professor Lamont Black told the Chicago Tribune.
Illinois Institute of Technology is set to offer its first class on blockchain this summer. University of Illinois at Chicago professor Gib Bassett, head of the finance department, will teach about bitcoin in his Chicago Exchanges MBA course this month for the first time in a decade due to students’ demands. “They want to hear about bitcoin. Their parents have told them it’s a tulip bubble,” he said, referring to the tulip bulb market in 1600s Holland that bloomed dramatically, then crashed. “It’s crazy, it’s ridiculous, and their friends who invested three years ago are millionaires…There’s clearly a generational component to this.”
“It’s not so much about being ahead; it’s making sure that you’re not going to be behind,” said Sarit Markovich, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She began discussing bitcoin in class five years ago but back then, “It was hard for me to fill up the course,” Markovich said. “Students were interested in typical traditional banking. They were like, ‘We don’t want to hear about that. … Tell us about mergers and acquisitions.’” In 2017 this changed drastically as over 50% of students became eager to learn about cryptocurrency. Now she has approval to create a new class focused on the subject for MBA students.
Andrew Miller, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is preparing to teach a class on smart contracts and says interest is surging. Enrollment was very fast as students see it as an opportunity to enter the financial technology development world. “A whole lot more seems possible,” he said.
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