Best of the Week 2018-2019: Teaching to the Future
REKINDLED FRIENDSHIP LEADS TO SUCCESS AT BLOCKLAND SOLUTIONS HACKATHON
Coleman Isner '20 has always had an interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) but has become particularly drawn to computer science, software programs and web design. Coleman also shares his love for computer science with Jack Jusko '20 from Saint Ignatius High School, a friend of Coleman's from preschool and grade school at Ruffing Montessori School in Rocky River. Due to relocation, Coleman and Jack haven't seen each other in years, but their families have kept in touch. Within a conversation between both families, it was shared that Jack was entering Cleveland's first Blockland Solutions Hackathon at Cleveland State University. When Coleman's parents told him about the competition, he and Jack decided to team up and compete in the Hackathon together. "Jack and I had known each other when we were younger, but I had moved away and we hadn't spoken in a while," says Coleman. "He ended up going to Saint Ignatius, but I chose St. Edward High School. Although we joined different communities, we developed the same interests and sought the same opportunities. I had been trying to find a team for the Blockland Solutions Hackathon and, to my surprise, Jack was doing the same, so we decided to team up together. I think it's great that two students from two different, prominent Catholic high schools in Northeast Ohio can work together on emerging technology and discover the potential it has for our wider community."
The Blockland Solutions Hackathon, held from November 9-11 in partnership with the Blockland Solutions Conference, served as an educational experience for participants to learn more about blockchain technologies. "A blockchain is essentially a decentralized network where the interactions between the nodes of that network are recorded on an immutable ledger," says Coleman. "This means that all individuals using the blockchain to transfer currency, share files or develop contracts have certainty that the transaction is legitimate. They also understand that no central authority is dictating their actions because everything happens on a peer-to-peer level. Blockchain technology has the potential to change businesses, protect user data, increase cybersecurity and provide power to individuals over their own transactions."
During the Blockland Solutions Hackathon, Coleman and Jack created a website that allows users to upload content to a blockchain where, using Node.js, all other users on the network can find it. The premise of the website is to provide a solution to decrease threats toward original content property. Coleman and Jack made sure that when an account on their website is created, a public-private key pair is generated. Once an article is uploaded through a user's account, it can be shared on the network so that other users can log in and search for a specific username to find articles. Users will have access to the public key and, by checking it against the private key owned by the user, they can automatically verify that the article originated from the user.
Through Coleman and Jack's website, files can be more securely shared between users. "In the future, we would like to add a ledger of access with time stamps so that if an article is copied by someone and appears on the network, it can be traced back to the original creator to get credit for the content," says Coleman. "The ledger would also allow a user to easily track how their content is shared across the network, giving them more opportunity for monetization and data protection. Another addition would include allowing users to share other types of files, specifically music or videos, on the network."
Coleman and Jack were one of the first teams at the Hackathon among industry professionals, college students and other high school students to create a proof of concept and to present their project to a panel of judges. In the end, Coleman and Jack took second place overall, each receiving a drone as their prize, for their website solution using blockchain technology. "I really enjoyed the chance to work with new technology in an environment where other developers and mentors could give us advice," says Coleman. "The Blockland Solutions Hackathon was a great way to see the solutions to problems that ambitious people are trying to solve in the Cleveland area. I saw some awesome projects and connected with many local professionals and individuals from Cleveland universities. A lot of the programs I'm involved in at St. Ed's are trying to branch out more and these contacts could provide potential opportunities to do just that. I would love to participate in more hackathons like these with our expanding St. Ed's Robotics Team and our computer science and engineering courses at St. Ed's. There are a lot of excited students and faculty members at St. Ed's who would love to participate in these opportunities and I have no doubt that we will be able to accomplish these challenges together, but it never hurts to branch out and work with old friends."
Photo from Cleveland.com