Jeremy Rubin and Dan Elitzer, two MIT students, have raised half a million US dollars in a plan to distribute $100 worth of Bitcoin to every undergraduate at MIT in the Fall. With the eventual goal of establishing a Bitcoin ecosystem at MIT, this will purportedly be achieved through the utilization of the MIT Bitcoin Project. The pair wants to work with the existing MIT academic institution to study how students decide to use their allotted Bitcoin and encourage entrepreneurial activity with the resource and the underlying protocol.
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]his form of student-lead exploration into cutting-edge technologies is a continuation of a long-standing tradition at the prominent academic institution. Over $500,000 has already been raised to cover all 4,528 prospective undergrads from 25 MIT alumni and those in the Bitcoin community. Rubin, a sophomore in computer science, said “Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era”. This statement echoes many other Bitcoin advocates who regularly draw parallels between the information revolution caused by the internet and the financial liberty that the Bitcoin protocol could offer users. Ruben explains the entrepreneurial relevance of the scheme: “Everybody has access to the Internet, right — so you want to launch a webapp? Everybody can do that. You want to launch a bitcoin or cryptocurrency app? That’s a little bit harder … you can’t test it in your immediate friend group. But hopefully [that’s] what we’ll enable.”
MIT will be the first academic community where widespread involvement, awareness and of cryptocurrency can be assumed following such a distribution. In a better intention-ed give-away than past attempts of national distribution of cryptocurrencies such as the altcoins Auroracoin or Spaincoin, hopefully the MIT project will have a greater degree of success.
Elitzer was approached by Rubin with the idea in March. Since the proposition evolved from giving only a select group the offering, but the offer was later extended to cover all undergrads following the strong response received in donations. All achieved before the project was even announced this spoke to the enthusiasm of the benefactors and those involved in organizing the initiative. Rubin notes the specific timing of the announcement is to give students a summer to work on Bitcoin projects to utilize the initiative. Other American colleges are catching on to cryptocurrencies as well. Recently, UVa hosted their first Dogecoin sponsored hackathon and NYU is considering classes focused on cryptocurrencies.
Exact details on the management of the $500,00 have not yet been delivered or even the wallets and software that will be used for the task of distribution. But the allocation of $100 worth of Bitcoin to each student is a given at this stage, with the remainder being used on infrastructure needed to educate the undergrads and technology needed to run the initiative. In preparation Ruben and Elitzer, who is the founder and president of the MIT Bitcoin club, have networked with HackMIT, the MIT Society of Women Engineers, and the College CryptoCurrency Network to plan the MIT Bitcoin Expo that will hold presentations and workshops from prominent Bitcoin enthusiasts such as Gavin Andreson, Sean Neville, Alan Reiner, Ryan X Charles and James D’Angelo on the 3rd of May.