SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Whitney Griffith, an early member of the Howard University Blockchain Lab (HUBL), won first place at this year’s World Blockchain Hackathon, in San Francisco. Recently, HUBL got a chance to reconnect with her to hear all about her latest success story.
HUBL: How did you find out about the Hackathon?
Whitney: I found out about the hackathon through the magic of Silicon Valley. One of the organizers came to my birthday party, and after we were talking for a while he told me about his World Blockchain Hackathon series, where he travels the world hosting Blockchain hackathons to build a community. Immediately I was intrigued because Blockchain and hackathons are totally my thing.
HUBL: Did you already have a team, or did you form the team when you arrived?
Whitney: When I got to the event, I formed the team with some other women engineers. However, most of us were pretty clueless in terms of Blockchain development so on Saturday everyone basically took the time to follow some tutorials and we began working on the project on Sunday.
HUBL: What got you interested in blockchain dev?
Whitney: My friends at Howard University, specifically Alston, got me into this cryptocurrency world. The more I was in the blockchain space by going to the events, and faking it, I got more intrigued by the technology and specifically I saw the numerous use cases that Blockchain can be applied to, to make the world a better place. As such, I immediately knew I needed to learn how to develop in Blockchain and all I needed was time.
HUBL: How long have you been doing blockchain dev?
Whitney:I have been doing Blockchain Development for two weeks roughly. Before, I have been researching about general blockchain stuff, such as, cryptocurrency trading, mining and following the ICO trends but I have only been doing blockchain dev the past two weeks.
HUBL: What were some obstacles you and your teamed faced while building the project?
Whitney: One of the main obstacle we faced was lack of knowledge of the Stack of a DApp, limited understanding of smart contracts and how to secure smart contracts. As such we spent most of our time peer programming, writing in pseudocode and then having to write it over in Solidity, and explaining the concepts to everyone on the team.
HUBL: How did the pitch go?
Whitney: The pitch was great. We had a story to tell and we knew that was the thing that would enable us to win. I was tasked with doing the pitch for my team, and although I was nervous I pushed through because I believed in our story.
HUBL: What went through your mind when they announced your team as the winner?
Whitney: I was in shock. I still am somewhat in disbelief and my first thought was, “Yes, I can go to Bali now!” We all looked at each other and screamed because we did not expect to actually win. Logically it didn’t make sense, 60% of our team never coded smart contracts before, but here we were winning a blockchain hackathon. This experience just shows that once you believe in yourself you can achieve anything. We have decided to pursue our idea to make a legitimate company, and part of our prize was access to a coworking space in San Francisco for three months to build the company.
HUBL: What advice do you have for people looking to getting into blockchain dev, talk to your people!
Whitney: My advice is if you aren’t currently in Blockchain and you are still looking for an area in tech to dominate, do Blockchain! A part from the wonders that the technology do, the job market is absolutely booming, and most importantly, you have more control as the jobs are mainly remote. If you have a dream of traveling the world and being a digital nomad, Blockchain can allow you to do so.
I have created a Blockchain Resources doc, that has a bunch of tutorials that you can use to upscale in your Blockchain skills. Take time, do the work and you will definitely reap the rewards. And the community is important, share knowledge, talk with others in the space, make an effort to go to Blockchain related events and you will not regret it.
HUBL: Keep doing your thing in Silicon Valley, and we can’t wait for you to come back to Howard University in the fall and share your lessons learned with the lab!
— by Alston Clark
Co-Founder, Howard University Blockchain Lab
Story and photo courtesy HUBL
Alston Clark is a 2018 Computer Science graduate of Howard University and National BDPA’s High School Coding Competition (HSCC) alumnus. Mr. Clark co-founded HUBL, the Center for Blockchain Education, Research, & Innovation, at Howard University.
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