On November 4 - 6, 2022, a premier blockchain technology conference will be held in our very own Tech Square. The conference will consist of a $10,000 cash prize hackathon, networking events, and over 60 speakers from the blockchain technology industry.
Thanks to four Georgia Tech students, this first-of-its-kind event came to fruition. Pruitt Martin, Jack Sanniota, Cole Schendl, and Manny Jonson organized the Web3 ATL Conference in a mere four months.
Pruitt Martin, a Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business undergrad with a concentration in finance, took an interest in blockchain technology early on. Martin’s journey began two years ago when he started to explore NFTs with fellow Scheller alum Cole Schendl. “We started playing this game called ZED RUN, where you own a digital horse and put it into different races and win money if your horse did well. That for me was a light bulb moment of how digital assets ownership has monetary value depending on how you use it,” Martin recalls.
From there, Martin and Schendl set out to start the first blockchain technology club at Georgia Tech, “Blockchain at Georgia Tech,” in August of 2021. “The goal in the beginning was to find a community of other students that were interested in crypto and blockchain technology. There's a ton of student interest; it just hasn't really been captured well before,” Martin said.
For Blockchain at Georgia Tech, education is the primary goal. “There are a lot of scams and bad actors out there that will try and mislead you when it comes to blockchain technology. We try to tell students what is good and real,” Martin states. They offer an eight-week-long cryptocurrency 101 class to provide a solid foundation for students to get started on the right path to explore these technologies, regardless of their experience.
On top of the Georgia Tech community, Blockchain at Georgia Tech also aims to expand education into the city of Atlanta. What began as an idea for a simple speaker series event grew into a three-fold conference, Web3 ATL, spanning three days consisting of a hackathon, panels, workshops, and even a party. “Web3 ATL ended up snowballing into this much larger event because we had such good traction early on. We've had a lot of help along the way from alumni who have all been very supportive,” Martin states.
The goal of Web3 ATL is to onboard students of all levels of experience and knowledge into the world of blockchain technology and make the learning process less daunting. Martin states, “We want to help fight misinformation. The most important part is getting started on the right path and getting the basics right.” Manny Jonson, a Blockchain at Georgia Tech executive board member adds, “In order to be successful in this industry, it really helps to have a community of people from a set of diverse backgrounds to help accelerate the learning process.” In accordance with their education-based mission, tickets are free for students and Georgia Tech faculty.
Martin attests that none of the conference would be possible without the immense help from Jack Sanniota, Manny Jonson, Cole Schendl, the student-led Web3 ATL team, as well as many other students and alumni who stepped in to organize this event in just four months. “To look back over the last four months and see that we've come very close to pulling this off has been pretty incredible given the time commitment we have put in,” Martin continues.
Although this is the first Web3 ATL Conference, these students do not plan on it being the last. Jack Sanniota, Blockchain at Georgia Tech executive board member, looks into the future of the conference, stating, “We want to make it an annual event. Our long-term goal for the conference is to be the premier blockchain conference in Atlanta. We want Web3 ATL to get people together and excited to push the industry forward.”
As the blockchain presence continues to grow at Georgia Tech and in Atlanta due to Blockchain at Georgia Tech and Web3 ATL’s efforts, Pruitt Martin leaves a piece of advice to those beginning their journey in blockchain technology:
“Know going in that everyone was in your shoes at one point. It’s going to take a lot of time of dedicated reading and research to fully understand what's going on. Don't be afraid to jump in and start; make a digital wallet, interact with some of these protocols, and get a feel for what you find interesting. One of the best ways to learn is by doing.”