My passion? Blockchain technology. I know, I know, but don’t leave just yet! I won’t try and convince you Bitcoin is changing the world, or argue the world’s supply chains are broken and only a blockchain can fix them, or even try to sell you on some new project or token. Instead, I want to share my soul-consuming interest in blockchain technology, and the soul-lifting support I received while pursuing it.
Where it all began
My interest in blockchain tech began at the end of my senior year of high school. It’s a classic story of initial interest: my dad told me to “check it out,” I told him to “leave me alone, Dad.” As soon as I did check it out, I realized he was totally right, and my interest quickly turned to obsession. I revised the “leave me alone” stance, and my dad and I spent hours that summer reading anything we could find about the technology, and discussing and debating it.
As college approached, I was excited to join the blockchain community I assumed existed at Penn.
Blockchain at Penn
Within the first week of school, two major blockchain-related events occurred. First, I met with my course planning advisor and told her blockchain was “all there is for me” (a dramatic statement, but it felt true). She responded something-to-the-effect of “let’s do it.” Second, I realized the blockchain community I imagined didn’t exist. So, with both confidence-from-support and despair-from-solitude, I realized I had to help create a blockchain community at Penn. I set my sights on a blockchain club.
Finding my community
The blockchain club took over a semester to get off the ground. At first, I tried to make progress alone. I quickly realized I didn’t have all the skills required to create a community of blockchain-lovers. Luckily, I met other students also trying to create a blockchain community at Penn. With their help, over the last two years, we have grown Penn Blockchain Club into a thriving community.
Support for Passion
Being a part of Penn Blockchain has made my educational journey so much more enjoyable. Learning together is a lot more fun than learning alone! And this community wouldn’t exist without the other passionate community-builders I met along the way.
With the support of my advisor, I took as many independent studies on blockchain as I could at Penn. Over my first three semesters, I took three, with the last two independent studies happening in the last semester. Unsurprisingly, I had to meet with a department chair or two to get this approved, and they were very supportive.
The professors that mentored my independent studies were from different schools and experts on different subjects, which widened my view on the technology. Learning through independent studies made it much easier to ignore everything else, and so, as you can imagine, I learned more about blockchain in these three classes than almost anywhere else.
Recently, I’ve followed my obsession to the end, and have begun contributing to blockchain research. The blockchains that exist today, while very exciting, are not ready for mainstream consumption, mostly because they are not scalable nor secure. I’m currently working on specifying new blockchain consensus algorithms to address these problems – work I find challenging, engaging, and stupidly exciting. I thank my parents, advisors, community builders, department chairs and professors for the support. Their guidance and help is the reason my interest has turned to passion, and that my passion has turned to action.
Nate Rush is a member of the Class of 2020 majoring in computer science and concentrating in statistics. His favorite thing about the M&T Program is, “the wonderful set of advisors, mentors, and peers that are involved in the community who are so willing to give advice!”