LTC Student Aids Other Universities Through University Blockchain Alliance

Portrait of Nicholas Harness
May 23, 2023

Lincoln Trail College student Nicholas Harness ('23) has a passion for blockchain and Web3 and that passion has led to him being an instrumental figure in the movement on campuses around the world. He’s the founder of the University Blockchain Alliance, an organization with the goal of making the blockchain space more accessible to students. 
Blockchain is a technology that allows people to share information securely and transparently without relying on a central authority. It's like a digital ledger where transactions are recorded and verified by a network of computers, making it difficult to tamper with. This makes it a highly reliable and secure method for recording and sharing information, which is useful for applications like financial transactions, supply chain management, and digital identity verification.
Web3 refers to the next generation of the internet, where data and applications are decentralized and powered by blockchain technology. It's a new paradigm that shifts control from centralized entities to users, enabling greater privacy, security, and freedom online. In Web3, users have greater ownership and control over their data and are able to participate in a more open and democratic digital ecosystem.
Harness's passion for blockchain technology began in high school when he recognized the lack of blockchain and cryptocurrency resources for smaller universities and colleges. This led him to establish the UBA, which has since grown to include over 150 schools and has a presence in 30 countries. Harness believes that a lack of student interest can be a major obstacle for smaller universities that want to establish blockchain clubs. “The UBA's role is to bring in connections, partnerships, and opportunities that would help smaller universities grow their blockchain clubs.”
Through the UBA, students from any university can participate in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space and gain access to resources that were previously only available to large universities. Harness said, "our network allows students to participate in research, attend events, and connect with other blockchain clubs and industry professionals." This has helped to promote the adoption of blockchain technology and has created a more equitable playing field for all students interested in the space.
Harness's goal is to promote the mass adoption of blockchain technology and to level the playing field for students interested in the space. He believes that organizations like the UBA will play an increasingly important role in shaping the future of the space. “As blockchain technology continues to evolve, the UBA will provide resources and opportunities to students from all backgrounds, helping to create a more diverse and inclusive blockchain community."
Harness says the growth of UBA has also given him a chance to grow. One of the areas where he’s seen growth has been in his communications and networking skills. Another area of growth has been in technology. “I've never been that technically minded. I'm awful when it comes to the computer science side of things. I'm an economics student and more interested in that facet and have better understanding the economic and financial outlook. In the last year and a half as we've built out UBA, I've gotten a lot more familiar with kind of that end of things. I've had the opportunity to sit in on workshops led by some of the best minds in the space. We're working with essentially some of the people who built this space, the original people who were at the universities and putting out research papers when they were students or when they were in-house researchers. It’s like we're working with some of the greatest academic minds where it's like it's hard not to improve, hard not to learn when you're around those people and talking to them and you're just nonstop getting in-depth explained on how out everything works.”
Harness has used the connections he’s made through UBA to benefit students at Lincoln Trail College. He’s been involved in Student Senate, Phi Theta Kappa, and Future Business Leaders of America and has done things like bringing speakers to meetings virtually to talk about business, emerging technology, and the tech space in general. 
As for his future, Harness plans to continue his education at the University of Illinois where he will study economics. He plans to continue his work with the UBA and would like to start a business. Recently he’s been working with a company that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to help colleges and college students. He also wants to keep helping Lincoln Trail College and other Illinois Eastern Community College students.
“UBA is working on a conference that would essentially rival some of the largest Web3 events in the US. We want it to be a mecca for the student space. We’re hoping to get a group of students from LTC to the event and give them an opportunity to get their foot in the door and learn more about the space. We’ll have speakers from all of the top companies, a lot of the most well-known people in the tech world, and a lot of the founders of the largest companies [at the event]. It will be a great opportunity and we intent to make the opportunity open to LTC and the other IECC schools.”