Business and computer science students at Utah Valley University (UVU) have created UVU-themed Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and launched a platform where they can be purchased. Proceeds from the sale of the NFTs will help fund Presidential Scholarships.
NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital files whose ownership is registered in a network of secure servers known as a block-chain. NFTs can be bought and sold just like physical works of art, photos, music, comic books, and gaming characters. NFTs now represent a $23 billion industry.
Rachel Bi, head of UVU’s FinTech Center and supervisor of the project, said that as international monetary systems increasingly incorporate blockchain technology, she wants to provide her students with a hands-on opportunity to understand how this emerging field works.
A team of students from the UVU Woodbury School of Business and the College of Engineering and Technology have been working closely with Dr. Rachel Bi, Dr. Jingpeng Tang, and a local Fintech company – Ocavu – during the past year to develop the UVU NFT Marketplace. The marketplace currently features 11 UVU-themed NFTs available for purchase for $2,000 each. Several donors have already reserved tokens.
The NFTs available in UVU’s marketplace include a digital image of the world-renowned Roots of Knowledge stain-glass exhibit at UVU’s Fulton Library, as well as an image of UVU’s mascot and a photo of the UVU Basketball Team’s 2021 victory over BYU.
“This has been a very rich educational journey for our students, as they have had to learn the economics of Web 3.0, the technology behind blockchains, develop a business case for NFTs, create these digital assets and then market them,” Dr. Bi said. “We want our students to be ready to step into jobs of the future, with relevant training and experience. This speaks to UVU’s innovative approach to engaged learning. I am not aware of any other university that has undertaken a student project like this.”
Given the complexity of the project, Dr. Bi said students have also learned valuable lessons about collaboration that will serve them well in their future professions.
Rob Platt, a senior in computer science, said he has appreciated the opportunity to work on a real-world blockchain project. “It’s a cool opportunity. It gave me a lot of insight,” he said, adding that he feels that this will be a great skillset as he begins looking for a full-time job following graduation.
“The UVU faculty and students have been enthusiastic, intelligent and very forward thinking throughout our partnership in developing this innovative Web3 marketplace for building awareness, excitement and raising donor funds for UVU,” said Jeremy Whitt. Chief Technology Officer for Ocavu, a local FinTech company that partnered with UVU on this project.
“Also impressive is the extremely short amount of time in which this student-led, student-designed, and student-built solution was completed. The constant passion for learning and impressive determination by the development team in pulling this across the finish line was extraordinary with lessons learned that could prove valuable for many years to come as they embark on their professional careers. Ocavu is proud to have supported the UVU students in this exciting real-world experience and look forward to continuing our partnership in future semesters.”