Farmer School team tops among colleges at Blockland Hackathon

November 2018

A Farmer School team came in first among colleges in the Blockland Hackathon held at Cleveland State University last weekend. The hackathon was put on by Blockchain Cleveland, a cooperative effort to make Cleveland a blockchain technology and ecosystem hub, and in partnership with the upcoming Blockland Solutions Conference.

Jack Gilcrest, Dhairya Desai, Ashton Barger, and Karan Gupta took third place overall, behind two teams of information technology professionals. Unlike many competitions where teams have a specific issue or problem to solve, the Farmer School team worked from Friday evening until Sunday morning to create a new product or service out of blockchain technology.

"The team was, fortunately, very well balanced: Jack was the technical guru who was in charge of majority -- if not all -- of the coding, Ashton was the developer and creator of our front end, Karan designed the graphics and mind maps for the presentation to illustrate the underlying tech, and I was the creator of the idea and was responsible for fleshing out the problem and solution, and design the overall structure of the presentation," Desai recalled. "The competition definitely put me outside of my comfort zone and was a lot of work. However, In the end, it worth staying up for two days when the judges validated our product. A very rewarding experience.

"The competition was a lot of fun and very interesting. It was the first time I’ve ever actually been able to develop a blockchain and I learned so much about the space," Barger recalled. "Everything we were trying to do was quite a lot, but we were able to go above and beyond what we originally thought we could get done."

“The students suggested a solution capable of tracking the issuer, owner, and requester of documents, with a particular focus on immigrants,” Dr. Arthur Carvalho said. “As a case study, the students discussed how the process of applying for a driver's license here in the US could be tremendously simplified if all the documents were online on a permissioned and private blockchain.”

“We divided the work amongst all of us and all of us contributed differently to the team. To do well in the competition, it was important that we all work as a team and that's what we did,” Gupta explained. “There were moments where we had to validate each other’s work to make sure we all were on the right track. I'm also glad that all of my teammates were passionate about blockchain technology, which helped us to stay focused on the competition and implement the blockchain we wanted.”

"Blockchain today is the internet in 1995. Amazon and Google both began in the 1990s, and I have full faith that some of the largest companies of the next generation will focus on blockchain," Gilcrest said. "As this was the first hackathon any of us (asides from Karan) had done, I'm pretty happy about it."

"Even though we didn’t get first overall, we still blew away the judges and were able to accomplish things I never thought possible in two days," Barger remarked. "We will definitely continue to do projects and hackathons together in the future."

Carvalho said the team’s work will likely continue, even though the hackathon is over. “I plan to continue coaching the students and hopefully develop a full-fledged, commercial solution,” he noted.

Farmer School team presents their blockchain product at the Blockland Hackathon Farmer School team poses for photo at the Blockland Hackathon