August 15, 2019
From left, Dan Shields, Tommy Cox and Abhir Elandasserry collaborate during a challenge at the 2018 WyoHackathon. Last year’s event attracted over 400 participants, and organizers hope to exceed that figure this year. (UW Photo)
The University of Wyoming will again host the WyoHackathon, but the 2019 event has expanded into a multi-day educational opportunity called the Wyoming Blockchain Stampede at the 2019 WyoHackathon.
Presented by UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, the events will take place Sept. 19-22 at the new Engineering Education and Research Building on the UW campus. UW College of Engineering and Applied Science Dean and Wyoming Blockchain Task Force member Michael Pishko has been instrumental in ensuring the return of this year’s events.
“The (Wyo) Hackathon and other events like it bolster our college’s culture of entrepreneurship,” says Pishko. “It helps us guide Wyoming’s economic development and foster innovative growth.”
Kicking off the four-day event will be the third 2019 meeting of the Wyoming Blockchain Task Force, a bipartisan group created to draft and seek public opinion on blockchain legislation. Wyoming gained worldwide attention after 13 blockchain bills were enacted during the 2018-19 legislative session. These laws range from recognizing direct property rights of cryptocurrency owners to authorizing new state-chartered depository institutions that can provide basic banking services to blockchain businesses. Shortly after these laws were passed, over 200 companies registered in Wyoming as doing business with blockchain.
The Stampede Developers Conference and Stampede Business Conference will take place following the task force meeting and will cater unique information to technologists, developers and entrepreneurs. Each conference will feature globally renowned speakers, including Charles Hoskinson, CEO of Input Output (IOHK); Caitlin Long, Wyoming Blockchain Task Force gubernatorial appointee and chairwoman/president of SymbiontTrace Mayer; Anthony Pompliano, co-founder and partner at Morgan Creek Digital; Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken digital asset exchange; and Jeremy Wood, co-founder and chief strategy officer at IOHK. Several workshops also will be offered to better understand the legislative environment and business opportunities in blockchain. The conferences are free and open to the public because of a significant donation from title sponsor Kraken, a champion of crypto since 2011.
“We like to lead by example and are proud to support Wyoming Blockchain Stampede Week because Wyoming is a rare and shining example of how to wrangle with blockchain the right way,” says Jesse Powell, Kraken CEO. “Events like this are critical in the development of blockchain technology and its regulatory treatment as we drive toward mainstream adoption.”
Starting Sept. 20 at 3 p.m., technologists, developers and students will gather in the atrium of the recently completed Engineering Education and Research Building to compete in the second annual WyoHackathon. Many sponsors will present challenges and provide prize money, also known as “bounties” in hackathons. Last year, the WyoHackathon awarded $80,000 in bounties, and organizers hope to exceed that amount this year. Registration for the initial challenge is underway, and participants can begin work Aug. 20. The remaining challenges will be released soon on the event website.
Following the hackathon awards Sept. 22, UW will host the first of four Sandcastle Invitational Challenges as part of the Sandcastle Startups Challenge global tour, leading up to its world finals in Dubai in fall 2020. Invitational winners in Wyoming’s regional qualifier will be awarded a share of the $25,000 prize provided by Sandcastle prize sponsor Green, a division of Codex. Winners from the WyoHackathon then will compete against other blockchain startups for a chance to be invited to Dubai for the Sandcastle Startups Challenge 2020 Finals, where 16 teams will compete (all expenses paid) in a bracket-style global cryptocurrency/blockchain startup competition. The winner of the Sandcastle 2020 will receive a $250,000 grand prize package. Sandcastle Foundation Chairman and co-founder Chris J. Snook explains why Wyoming became a front-runner destination for one of the invitationals.
“Selecting Wyoming as the right venue for our North American regional qualifier location was a data-driven decision based upon many factors that we look for at Sandcastle,” Snook says. “The core of it stemmed from its robust commitment to developing a thoughtful framework, and we found an incredible commitment from the (UW) College of Engineering and Applied Science to remove obstacles and enable the next generation of leaders around blockchain and cryptocurrency research.”
A celebration will be hosted at UW’s Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center to conclude the Wyoming Blockchain Stampede Sept. 22 from 5-7 p.m. Notable speakers will travel to campus and engage with attendees throughout the events.
The Wyoming Blockchain Stampede and continued benefits for Wyoming-based blockchain organizations have been made possible by industry supporters and individuals such as 1990 UW alumnae Long, who organized the first WyoHackathon last year. Participants can register for the events by visiting www.wyohackathon.io, and teams can be formed the day of the event.