Alumna talks Bitcoin, blockchains at UW

(Photo by Christine Maybee) Caitlin Long, a UW almun and chairperson of Symbiont, spoke about blockchain and Bitcoin.

The world of technology is advancing at breakneck speed, and blockchains are at the forefront of a new world economy.

Caitlin Long, UW alumni, is the president and chairman of Symbiont. She spoke to UW students, faculty and the public about understanding blockchain technology and Bitcoin, the first blockchain system to come into existence.

“The blockchain technology, more broadly, is a tremendously powerful technology for the financial services industry, for healthcare, for supply chain and logistics, and there are many applications of the technology to Wyoming,” Long said. “My goal was to help the audience understand why this technology has captured so much interest and imagination and how it might be applied in Wyoming.”

According to Cointelegraph.com, state laws are what currently regulate blockchain systems like Bitcoin, and new legislation in states like Illinois, Hawaii, and Washington is being passed to promote and protect businesses and persons who utilize blockchain technology and virtual currency.

“I decided to endow a new endowment for female engineers by donating Bitcoin to UW, and they couldn’t take it, because of Wyoming’s banking laws preventing the Bitcoin exchanges from doing business in Wyoming,” said Long. “So that’s how I got that connected to the foundation and to Dean Pishko, [College of Engineering and Applied Science.] The good news is I found a charity outside Wyoming who could liquidate the Bitcoin and give the UW foundation the money, so all’s well that ends well.”

The Cybersecurity and Education Research Center hosts Lunch and Learns to educate in a non-lecture format, which is where Long gave her presentation. At the Lunch and Learns, free food is provided, and staff, faculty, students and the public have the opportunity to engage in conversation. All Lunch and Learn lectures are uploaded to Wyocast.

“We care about trying to educate our student body and faculty body, and I’ll say the public as well about emerging threats and how to protect yourself,” Director of Cybersecurity Education and Research, Mike Borowczak said.

Speakers at these events are often UW alumni, and Borowczak said the alumni often wish to come back to speak to students about where they are now and how they were once in the student’s shoes.

“Our topics are very fluid, we’re pretty open to anybody who wants to come and talk and we’ve been really fortunate that Caitlin and a few of the other speakers found us,” Boroczak said.

“I’m such a proud alum of UW, and I grew up in Laramie, and its home and I still call it home,” Long said. “It was really great fun to go back to campus and give this talk, and I have a feeling there will be many more, especially given the engineering college’s interest in this technology.”

Long said that Borowczak and his students at the CEDAR Center are using this technology to try and conduct a voting pilot project in the spring.

“I hope that [students] can see the connection between the things they are studying in class, I mean in any class, from business, to engineering to arts and sciences, everywhere basically how you can apply that in the real world,” Borowczak said. “Blockchain and Bitcoin are the cool hot buzzwords today, so I hope what they got out of it is that you can go through your time at UW and get some practical experience in emerging technologies.”

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