Today, I am writing this article from my desk at Sofia, Bulgaria. But several days ago, I was saying goodbye to my new Filipino friends at Iloilo, Philippines.

I, along with my team at Kingsland University and Software University, just finished leading a one month immersive Blockchain Development camp there.

The Blockchain Dev Camp, Iloilo, Philippines

The experience was great. For both trainers and students.
Want to learn more? Read on.

The Dev Camp

So what is this dev camp about, exactly?

For the past year, we have been preparing a fully immersive Bootcamp for Blockchain development.
The camp is 8-weeks long and consists of 4 weeks of instruction + exercise and 4 weeks for the students to prepare their practical projects with online support.

The course is very practice-oriented. 50% theory + 50% practice live in class every day.

The students working on their practical tasks

This program has evolved during this time and been incrementally improved with every passing instance of the course. Previous instances include camps in Bulgaria and Singapore.

Based on the feedback we received from trainers and students, it seems that this instance of the camp was the best one so far.

In contrast to popular online Blockchain courses, this camp is meant to extensively cover in-depth Blockchain topics.
Successful graduation guarantees the students a competitive advantage in an industry just getting up to speed.

What does the curriculum cover, exactly?

Curriculum

Part I – Blockchain Networks

The first 2-week part of the course is called “Blockchain Networks”. Here, we are studying in-depth the Blockchain concept, how it works, how is it implemented in popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum and the intricacies of how it is implemented.

This part of the course includes topics like Cryptography, Consensus Algorithms, Mining, Transactions, Wallets, Blockchain Scalability & more.

Every one of these sub-topics has a lot of exercises accompanying them to help students solidify their knowledge of Blockchain. But the peak of this course is the final practical project – Building your own Blockchain Network.

That’s right.

You don’t simply learn how Blockchain works, you build a Blockchain yourself.

This is perhaps the most exciting part of the course, when you get to implement your own Blockchain node, mining software, wallet & Block explorer.

George Angelov explaining the Merkle-Patricia Trie concept

Part II – DApps & Solidity

The second 2-week part of the course is called “DApps & Solidity”. In this part, we study Ethereum & Solidity in-depth. We study how Ethereum works, what’s the EVM, how does it work. We then study Solidity. All the nitty-gritty details of the language are covered in this part of the course. And not only the basic stuff. We actually study Solidity Assembly as well.

Yep, people get to taste how the EVM works by writing low-level instructions for it.

Next up, we study how to interface the front-end and the back-end with the Smart Contracts on the Ethereum Blockchain.

This part of the course finishes with people creating their own decentralized application using Solidity & a front-end/back-end technology of their choice. Some of the projects we’ve seen so far are quite impressive. For example, one of our students created an RPG game using Smart Contracts and JS.

Supporting the students live in class

Finally, students have a 4-week period where they have to finish their practical projects, do all their exercises, which they couldn’t complete during the course and finally, defend their projects in front of a trainer committee. In the end, they get officially certified as Blockchain Engineers and can start their journey in this exciting space.

After graduating, our students start working on some very challenging blockchain projects in the space. Those include building their own cryptocurrency by forking an already existing one, creating solidity DApps for clients & working on future & existing ICOs.

Instructors

The curriculum is great, but what makes this course stand out is the great team of trainers delivering the course.

Nikolay Angelov teaching Zero Knowledge Proofs

During the Philippines course, we had some of the strongest trainers on our team tagging along.
For us, the quality of teaching and instruction is of topmost importance and due to this, the trainers invested a great deal of time in preparation, rehearsal and enhancement of the already existing materials.
There were some very exciting moments during the course.

We had people use interactive drawing on their laptops similar to Khanacademy‘s teaching model to explain complex concepts.
We heard stories of a taxi driver in order to explain payment channels in Blockchain.
A trainer buy ethers live in class, another one played the flute.

Using Interactive Methods to teach Blockchain

We even played Magic: The Gathering with some of the students in the breaks.

There was also tasty pizza in the breaks.

We, taking pictures with the food instead of eating it

And who taught that Harry Potter is not as popular in the Philippines as it is in Europe.

Explaining the Voldemort Anagram

It was an amazing experience for both trainers and students.

The Students

For this course, there were over 500 applicants. Yet, only 40 got admitted in the course and only 20 were able to endure the whole course.

Blockchain Dev Camp – class of August, 2018, Philippines

These 20 students were the only ones who had the willpower and commitment to stick to the intense tempo of the course. And we were surprised by their dedication. Some of them even stayed in class after the activities for the day were over in order to catch up and don’t fall behind.

The bootcamp is not something you can do in your free time. It requires total dedication for the duration of the course. We’ve seen students leave their jobs in order to be able to successfully pass our course. It’s not an easy endeavor.

And yet, these Philippine students were able to go through this immersive course. In the coming month, we are looking forward to meeting them again on their project defenses. We foresee some very exciting projects for this instance of the course.

Some of the projects include a decentralized Discord Game Bot, Decentralized trivia games on Ethereum, game-betting DApps and many more we don’t yet know about.

The Philippines

This country feels like an underestimated destination for software development with enormous potential. The software development talent this country has is great. Some of the developers we’ve met here are among the most dedicated ones we’ve seen. And what’s more surprising is that they are all very young! The average age was 20-21 years old. And they were already demonstrating very competitive software development skills.

And yet, there seems to not be enough investments in this area – in terms of software development opportunities and programming education. The local software development company we partnered with, StackTrek, was among the few private companies in the area offering opportunities for software developers in the area. With their support, we were able to lead some seminars in local venues.

Patrick Galloway leading “The Technology behind Bitcoin”, University of Iloilo

The only place where people can study software development here is the university. And although local educators are struggling hard to help aspiring engineers learn software development, the demand of high-quality developers highly exceeds the provided supply.

In comparison, Bulgaria has several major software development boot camps, offering a very good start for aspiring programmers, along with several very competitive engineering programs in local universities. SoftUni alone helps more than 1000 students per year accomplish their first steps in the software development industry and find their first programming job.

I feel like the Philippines is a mini Silicon Valley waiting to be discovered. It just needs some more investors to realize its potential and start bringing projects and good engineering courses in the area. The first ones to realize this could bring great benefits for themselves and for the country as well.

Conclusion

A month spent in the Philippines was a great journey for students and trainers alike. This course was not simply a business deal done for profit. It was a challenging endeavor for helping the software development community in the Philippines grow and advance in an exciting industry with enormous potential.

And we will continue contributing to the Blockchain ecosystem in the future as well. Exciting new destinations and journeys await. The Philippines was a very successful first step and much more awaits.

Halong kamo tanan! (This should mean “Take care everyone!”. My baby steps in Ilongo…)