New Course in Blockchain Technology Focused on Entrepreneurship in Energy and Agriculture set to Launch in Southwest Virginia

Posted by Leah Prater

A joint project between Emory & Henry College School of Business, William & Mary Global Research Institute and InvestSWVA links regional economic development to educating entrepreneurs in energy, agriculture and technology.

A new course in blockchain technology at Emory & Henry College, sponsored by the College’s School of Business, Troy Wiipongwii of the William & Mary Global Research Institute and InvestSWVA, will launch on June 21, 2022. The course will put blockchain technology and its ancillary developments into an accessible context for the economy of Southwest Virginia. The goal of the course’s sponsors is to open avenues into growing scalable businesses in agriculture and energy, in an environmentally sound manner, using the full force of decentralized technology.

Blockchain is a technology that transcends geographic, economic and political boundaries, known today for supporting other technologies such as Non-fungible Tokens, Cryptocurrencies and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. Emory & Henry’s five-week course, taught by Mr. Wiipongwii, will explore the application of blockchain technology to Southwest Virginia’s drive to expand its economy – integrating the technological with the economic and the entrepreneurial. The course, open to enrolled students and business guests, will prepare participants to communicate effectively about how blockchain can support new growth in the region’s energy and agriculture sectors.

Work on this project began in 2021 with InvestSWVA’s specialty grain initiative, which defines the region as the go-to source for grain products used in the craft beverage industry. InvestSWVA’s Will Payne, who serves as Vice Rector of William & Mary’s Board of Visitors, saw an opening for Emory & Henry’s School of Business to serve as a strategic partner along with the Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy) in incorporating blockchain technology with InvestSWVA’s energy and specialty agriculture projects, enacting a shared focus on entrepreneurship. Following a visit by William & Mary officials to the region for meetings with House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore, Deputy House Majority Leader Israel O’Quinn and Senator Todd Pillion, Payne engaged the university’s Global Research Institute and Mr. Wiipongwii, who previously served as the Director of the Institute’s Blockchain Lab. Emory & Henry College School of Business Dean Emmett P. Tracy and Delegate Israel O’Quinn embraced the concept of a partnership aligning Emory & Henry’s priority to prepare entrepreneurs with regional economic development. Exposure to the fundamentals of blockchain technology introduces a competitive component. In addition to teaching this Emory & Henry course, Mr. Wiipongwii serves as an advisor to InvestSWVA.

“The business school of Emory & Henry College seeks to nurture and deliver entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Emmett P. Tracy, Dean of the School of Business at Emory & Henry College. “The Blockchain Foundations course will help us connect our mission as educators with our priority of encouraging our talent to stay and grow with and in Southwest Virginia. The course addresses the priorities of our student base as well, in the realm of taking agriculture and energy startups to new heights, using technology strategically and with full realization of environmental impact.”

“I am fascinated by and dedicated to research and entrepreneurial activities that take a human-centered approach to the design of technology,” said Troy Wiipongwii, affiliated faculty member of the William & Mary Global Research Institute. “I believe this course and the follow-on activities really hit home, putting stakeholders and challenges, not technology, first. I want this course to be about putting blockchain into a real-life, on-the-ground context – not just another blockchain course with more blockchain hype. The Blockchain Lab at the William & Mary Global Research Institute is about stakeholder alignment and rigorous evaluation of real-world applications of blockchain. We are most definitely moving in that direction here, in Virginia’s southwestern region.”

“This course takes rural Virginia into much-needed territory of integrating relevant higher education, powerful technology and economic development,” said Israel O’Quinn, Fifth District Delegate and Deputy Majority Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates and alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees of Emory & Henry College. “Besides being pleased that Emory & Henry is introducing blockchain to this conversation, with Troy Wiipongwii, I look forward to seeing the role courses like this can play in encouraging students to take the entrepreneurial route in our southwest region. I applaud all the partners in this endeavor and congratulate InvestSWVA for helping to make this happen. The time is right for taking economic development efforts in this direction.”

“This course advances the use of blockchain technology in the agriculture and energy industry sectors,” said Will Clear, Deputy Director for Virginia Energy and alumnus of Emory & Henry College. “It will grow entrepreneurs around important issues such as land-use planning, energy infrastructure and agricultural sustainability – introducing them to how technology can serve their efforts to build scalable businesses and enjoy rewarding careers. I believe courses like this will produce graduates who will stay here, help our region leverage our legacy strengths and command the right kind of attention from industrial partners.”

“It’s time to tell a different story about Southwest Virginia,” said Will Payne, Managing Partner of Coalfield Strategies and Project Lead for InvestSWVA. “This course in blockchain technology, put together through a remarkable partnership, is another step in a better direction for developing the region’s economy – yet it also taps the strengths of generations of entrepreneurs and industrialists who shaped this region and delivered benefits to the entire world. By embracing the idea that blockchain technology can serve the regional call to grow and prosper, we are setting a new stage for rural economic development.”

About Emory & Henry College

Emory & Henry has devoted itself since 1836 to the belief that education can have a transformative effect on an individual, a place and ultimately the wider world. The School of Business serves to connect the longstanding tradition of purposeful liberal arts at the College with the necessary entrepreneurial mindsets that sustainably address emerging challenges. Creating tomorrow’s leaders with critical thinking skills, civic values, entrepreneurial mindsets, and the professional confidence to sustainably address a changing society, the School sets a standard for excellence in business knowledge rooted in the unique heritage of Appalachia. Visit Emory & Henry College.

About William & Mary Blockchain Lab and William & Mary Global Research Institute

The mission of the William & Mary Blockchain Lab is to convene a diverse group of stakeholders to support collaborative research and social impact entrepreneurship in the blockchain and decentralized technology space. The Lab is a collaboration between William & Mary’s Entrepreneurship Hub and the William & Mary Global Research Institute. Its spirit is in the combination of entrepreneurial thinking with applied research to make real-world impacts. Troy Wiipongwii is a Ph.D. candidate in Technology and Data Science at Capitol Technology University. He previously served as the Director of the Blockchain Lab at the William & Mary Global Research Institute.

About Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy)

The Virginia Department of Energy (Virginia Energy) enhances the development and conservation of energy and mineral resources in a safe and environmentally sound manner to support a more productive economy. Created as the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy in January 1985, the agency’s top priority is worker safety. The Virginia Energy has offices in Big Stone Gap, Charlottesville and Richmond. Visit Virginia Energy.

About InvestSWVA

A public-private business research, attraction and marketing campaign for Southwest Virginia, InvestSWVA was launched in September 2019. Initiated under the umbrella of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and backed by private industry, the campaign produces economic development traction by welcoming new business-centric ideas and leveraging industry relationships. Visit InvestSWVA.

For more information about the School of Business at Emory & Henry College contact Dr. Emmett Tracy at eptracy@ehc.edu

  • From left to right: Israel O’Quinn, Fifth District Delegate and Deputy Majority Leader of the Virginia House of Delegates and alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees of Emory & Henry College; Dr. Emmett P. Tracy, Dean of the School of Business at Emory & Henry College; Will Payne, InvestSWVA Director and Vice Rector of William & Mary’s Board of Visitors; Will Clear, Deputy Director for Virginia Energy and alumnus of Emory & Henry College

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/276-deadline-extended-until-march-1-for-swva-lift"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg" alt="A map shows the counties, cities and towns covered by the SWVA Lift program." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1200,800/2658_Lift-SWVA.jpg.rev.1518186593.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1200" data-max-h="800" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/276-deadline-extended-until-march-1-for-swva-lift">Deadline Extended Until March 1 for SWVA Lift</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Emory & Henry College, exit 26 off I-81 in Emory, Va., has extended the deadline for its SWVA Lift initiative until March 1. The program helps make a top liberal arts education affordable for need-based students across Southwest Virginia at Emory & Henry.</p><a href="/live/news/276-deadline-extended-until-march-1-for-swva-lift" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/280-emory-henry-college-opens-interfaith-prayer"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.jpg" alt="Student Safa Farhoumand helps dedicate the Interfaith Prayer Room." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/3171_InterfaithPrayerRoom16_2.rev.1518211260.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/280-emory-henry-college-opens-interfaith-prayer">Emory & Henry College Opens Interfaith Prayer Room</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Equipped with chairs, tables, prayer rugs and religious texts, a room in the lower-level of Memorial Chapel on the Emory & Henry College campus is now available for students of all faiths to have a quiet place to pray and meditate.</p><a href="/live/news/280-emory-henry-college-opens-interfaith-prayer" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/735-koch-uncovers-the-inequalities-of-food"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg" alt="Shelley Koch" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/38/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,492,2136,2630/6049_Shelley_Koch-2.rev.1552061534.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2136" data-max-h="2138" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/735-koch-uncovers-the-inequalities-of-food">Koch Uncovers the Inequalities of Food</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Dr. Shelley Koch has released her third book, <em>Gender and Food: A Critical Look at the Food System</em>. The book looks at different aspects of food and how it is affected by gender inequalities. <a href="/live/news/735-koch-uncovers-the-inequalities-of-food" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2252-libraries-at-emory-henry-receive-grant-funding"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.jpg" alt="Kelly Library at Emory & Henry College" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2131,2130/10958_20150505_EHC_4013.rev.1647460156.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2131" data-max-h="2130" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2252-libraries-at-emory-henry-receive-grant-funding">Libraries at Emory & Henry Receive Grant Funding to Support Health and Diversity Education</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Funding was recently received for the School of Health Sciences Library in Marion to build a Diversity in Health Collection as well as the Frederick Thrasher Kelly Library in Emory to develop a tool to assess diversity from the Network of the National Library of Medicine. <a href="/live/news/2252-libraries-at-emory-henry-receive-grant-funding" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/717-emory-henry-college-holds-mid-appalachian"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg" alt="From left to right: Moderator Dr. Michael Puglisi of Emory & Henry College, Dr. Dean Sprinkle..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/921,0,3059,2136/6043_Mid-Appalachian_Higher_Ed_Summit.rev.1551899402.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2138" data-max-h="2136" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/717-emory-henry-college-holds-mid-appalachian">Emory & Henry College holds Mid-Appalachian Higher Ed Summit</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> For the first time in the Mid-Appalachian region, leaders of nine higher education institutions gathered to look at the state of higher education, demographic and economic trends, and workforce and career development needs in the region. <a href="/live/news/717-emory-henry-college-holds-mid-appalachian" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>