A Hands-on Approach to Growing the Blockchain Talent Pool

A Hands-on Approach to Growing the Blockchain Talent Pool

One of the biggest barriers to growth for the blockchain industry is the availability of developers with the right skills and training. At Norilsk Nickel, we are tackling that problem directly with the Blockchain Master’s Program, which we launched in 2019 in partnership with MIPT and IBM.

Norilsk Nickel is constantly introducing and using advanced engineering technologies, and it is therefore logical that the company has focused its attention on blockchain technologies. In addition, working with students is one of the most important areas of the company’s activities. This has become the background for creation of a Blockchain Master’s Program in cooperation with the major technology players leading in their respective fields.

The Blockchain Master’s Program is based in the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, which is among the Russian technical universities regularly included in the top international rankings. MIPT is always interested in the development and implementation of educational programs in new promising areas. Educational programs at MIPT embrace numerous high-tech areas in partnership with Russian and international industrial companies.

One of the challenges in creating the Master’s Program was the fact that this was essentially the first Russian full-fledged educational program entirely dedicated to Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT). The best experts in the market, from Russia and beyond, have been involved in the development of this educational course. Since all of them are practicing experts, the curriculum is updated on an ongoing basis taking into account the latest technology developments  as well as business expectations. All our lecturers work in the fields they teach for leading companies, mainly in the IT sector.

The primary task of the Master’s Program is not only to educate the students but also to enable them to gain real practical experience. Therefore, it was not easy to create a balanced curriculum. We aimed to combine both theoretical and practical disciplines to provide students with the most relevant knowledge as well as skills that will assist them in pursuing a successful business or academic career.

Our Hyperledger Fabric course, a cornerstone of the curriculum, provides the students with detailed information about the modular architecture of the Hyperledger Fabric platform and its capacities for creating blockchain applications. Given the fact that Hyperledger Fabric is the de facto standard for the enterprise blockchain platforms, the study of this subject takes two full semesters. As a result of the training, students create their own Hyperledger Fabric  projects helping to solve relevant application tasks.

One of Norilsk Nickel’s key education goals is supporting talented students. That’s why all applicants who have successfully passed the entrance tests can study free of charge. The Blockchain Master’s Program provides for paid internships as well, so any student who is serious about studying can get an offer as early as after the first academic semester. Meanwhile, the student can be engaged in both business projects and scientific and research activities. Norilsk Nickel, as a major industrial player, is committed to providing all interested students with the opportunity to build their career path concurrently with the study on the basis of real projects or scientific inquiries. 

Over the three years of the Master’s Program existence, we have witnessed vertical growth of the number of potential applicants, which indicates the importance of having such programs. To meet the demand, we made a decision to double the intake of students this year.

We have also revised and adjusted the curriculum to make the program as relevant as possible, based on the development of technologies and the requests formed by the business environment.

We actively participate in various events both within and outside MIPT to demonstrate our expertise in blockchain technology. Such events enable the students and the IT community to understand the relevance and importance of this technology and help us to make it more understandable for a wider audience.

To grow the Blockchain Master’s Program further, we plan to strengthen the level of scientific research to compete with top technical academic institutions around the world. We already have reached some preliminary agreements for this expanded focus.

For more information about the program, please visit website https://blockchain.mipt.ru/en.

Cover image: Pxfuel

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