Zilliqa: Enhanced Practicability in Blockchain A – Z Workshops
Saiba Kataruka is the Developer Market Lead at Zilliqa, who recently spoke to Blockchain.News on the new technological advancements of his company in terms of sharding and consensus algorithms and linear scalability.
In this second installment of our exclusive interview, Kataruka shares insights on Zilliqa’s mission to enhance blockchain education in a way that keeps up with the speed of technological developments.
No ‘Ideal’ Candidate
Blockchain A-Z was initially developed to address the need for more blockchain education programmes that are instigated by projects in the space. Kataruka emphasized that while there are many higher education institutions that now offer courses and extensible curricula on the tech, they are disadvantaged by the rapid changes taking place across the sector on a daily basis. He said, “By conducting workshops such as these, we’re able to not only equip students with the basic technical and business fundamentals but to also provide insights that are both future-oriented as well as timely to the challenges that projects continue to face today.”
With that being said, the Zilliqa team believes there are no ‘ideal candidate’ criteria for someone looking to join the industry, nor does someone need to have a background in computer science or software development to join our workshops. Kataruka explained, “While a background in programming might have an advantage, the industry would, in fact, benefit from greater diversity in skills and academic knowledge, given the broad range of roles that now exist in the space. With the given time, dedication and the right support, essentially anyone could contribute to and enrich this ecosystem.” However, he admits that given that the blockchain industry is still in its infancy, training established engineers can present some challenges, mainly the following:
● An industry that never sleeps: Much like the technology, the blockchain industry is extremely fast-paced. Developments take place on a daily basis, making it extremely challenging for engineers, or in fact, anyone, to keep track of new resources, software or available tools to learn from.
● Existing gaps in traditional learning institutions: Universities are slowly integrating blockchain into their curricula but this has been gradual. There are not many formal qualifications today that enable engineers to upskill their coding abilities to what is in demand in the space.
He concludes, “Our education programmes (which you’ll learn more about below) work to dissolve some of these barriers so that blockchain education is accessible, understandable and immediately applicable.”
Enhancing Practicability of the Blockchain A – Z Workshops
The Blockchain A-Z workshop is designed to be a comprehensive, effective and hands-on tutorial on writing smart contracts on Zilliqa’s blockchain using Scilla, while addressing the realities of building a product with real-world applicability. To that end, Kataruka said, “We cover the four fundamental pillars of blockchain application development in these workshops, touching specifically on technical fundamentals of blockchain and smart contracts, security, as well as business use case knowledge.”
Another recent Zilliqa development is an interactive coding website that teaches aspiring blockchain developers on how to write smart contracts line by line with Scilla. “This website will be made accessible to anyone in the world and aims to lower barriers to understanding blockchain and by extension, smart contract development,” said Kataruka, “ Aimed at even non-programmers, users will be able to start from scratch and learn the basics of what it takes to build an application on Zilliqa.”
As part of Blockchain A-Z, Zilliqa is also inviting budding developers to join its USD $5 million Ecosystem Grant Programme––its very own incubator wherein promising teams are seeded for 0% equity in return. Selected applicants will benefit from technical mentorship as well as useful tools to simplify their building experience.
The Current Blockchain Job Market
Kataruka believes that the blockchain job market has continued to flourish despite the heavy decline of cryptocurrency markets in 2018––job reports from both 2018 and 2019 corroborate this, showing that interest has only increased over time and that firms are actively scouting new talent. He said, “Although jobs are mostly skewed towards developers, we expect this to gradually change in the future.”
Commenting on the blockchain ecosystem, Kataruka said, “Today, current developments in the industry can be likened to a new city being built where the main focus is on developing a solid infrastructure to support businesses who can then operate on top of it. As the technology continues to mature on the infrastructure/protocol level, the development will only accelerate, allowing for even more opportunities that necessitate more than just technical rigor.” He added, “We’ve already begun to see this for ourselves at Zilliqa as we work on actively expanding our team. Without any limitations as to what can be built on our ecosystem, it’s crucial that our team is equipped with expertise across a wide range of areas, whether that’s in media, economics, or legal––each understanding how blockchain has the potential to transform those respective sectors.”
Use Cases of Smart Contracts in the Education Sector
Technology continues to radically shape the progression of education, largely catalyzed by the advent of online learning schemes. Kataruka said, “In fact, the education technology, or EdTech sector is projected to reach a market value of $93.76 billion by next year. The growing popularity of online degrees matched by an ever-increasing number of students open to studying online has allowed for a leveled playing field in attaining educational credentials to emerge. Although ultimately a benefit, there remain challenges, particularly in the current lack of trust and fears of fraud.”
According to Kataruka—one of the ways that institutions have used blockchain to mitigate trust concerns is with digital certificates wherein one’s diploma is stored on a blockchain. Not only can it never be lost, it can also never be tampered with. He outlined, “With such records stored on-chain, sharing educational data when one chooses to pursue further studies would be even easier, with students no longer burdened by the process of requesting transcripts from one institution to send to another. On a more practical level, smart contracts can also be used to verify the authenticity of diplomas and reduce paperwork. Their applicability also extends to the classroom, when used to verify attendance or the appropriate completion of assignments once a set of criteria is met.”
Ground-Up Engineering Adoption VS Top-Down Mandated Directives
As blockchain adoption is becoming more and more of an engineering adoption built from the ground up, Kataruka offered some advice for those who are used to having technological progress mandated by top-down directives.
“For the most part,” Kataruka advised, “Projects should remember that we currently exist at a very unique point in time where the industry is only now establishing itself in the eyes of legacy players. With that comes both an immense freedom as well as a responsibility––we have the ability to experiment and engage with breakthrough technologies with immense potential without being beholden to traditional models within our own sector. Though enterprise adoption is a long-held goal for this collective industry as a whole, it’s important to avoid becoming fixated on how more traditional industries are still operating today.”
Concluding Kataruka stated, “Blockchain precipitated a revolution that was born from the ground-up, decentralized by design––and it’s likely that the industry’s staunchest participants will continue to hold to these values as time wears on. At Zilliqa, we actively pioneer the participation of our community members and we want to do our best to provide them with the necessary infrastructures to help build out our ecosystem. This does not necessarily mean that top-down approaches will become obsolete in this space, but rather, a fine balance is needed between the two.”