bIITcoin and the Blockchain Education Network team up with WIIT at the Chicago Bitcoin Airdrop

Sat, 2016/10/01
Reno Waswil
The Blockchain Education Network (BEN) is a grassroots network that promotes and empowers students and schools around the world in educational initiatives in their campuses and communities. On Saturday, September 24, BEN partnered with Illinois Tech student organizations bIITcoin and WIIT by way of Dev Bharel, the president of the former, to put on the “Chicago Bitcoin Airdrop.” The event was meant to complement similar airdrops done all around the country, such as at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Florida, but on a slightly larger scale.


The course of the event spanned about eleven to twelve hours in total, and included a “street teams”—made up of Bharel along with students Patrick Bartman, Siddarth Ramesh, and Dominik Wiegel (who, as per the name “Airdrop,” brought with him a remote control drone)—and a “studio team”—made up of students and WIIT personnel Jordan Mynes and Reno Fera-Ducatt.


The street team’s goals were to spread educational information about Bitcoin, the popular cryptocurrency, and blockchain, the public ledger over which Bitcoin transactions take place. Furthermore, they would guide participants through the process of setting up their first Bitcoin wallets on site, if applicable. They did not limit their span to Illinois Tech, but traveled around the city, spending time at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Student Center East, the Depaul Lincoln Park Campus Student Center, and the University of Chicago Reynolds Club.


As this happened, the studio team remained broadcasting live for over ten straight hours via WIIT 88.9 FM terrestrial and online radio streaming from the A. Sidney Katz studio. This offered an outlet to the event for those that could not take part in-person, including keeping listeners up-to-date with how it was going, and providing a platform for discussion and education for listeners by way of in-depth interviews and trivia with people calling into the station.


The street team started their exploits on the McCormick Tribune Campus Center (MTCC) Bridge at about 10 a.m., and the radio team began soon afterwards. Spending two to three hours at each destination, the street team encouraged passing patrons to take part in an educational discussion, which included explaining to them how they could set up a Bitcoin wallet on their phone. If they elected to work through the process right there with them, participants were even given about $6 worth of free Bitcoin to their new wallet care of the BCN, hence calling the event an airdrop.


On the radio end, between songs from a playlist curated by Mynes, he and Fera-Ducatt had very interesting conversations over the studio phone with notable members in the Blockchain community and relatively uninitiated persons, alike. Their callers included Dean Masley—executive director of the BCN—as well as Dawn Newton—manager at wallet naming service “Nextki”—and many more. In addition to this, they heard from relatively bitcoin-uninitiated listeners who called in for a chance to win about $25 worth of bitcoin by answering trivia question related to the topic. They would also occasionally get on-site check-ins from the street team by way of either phone calls or via the mobile broadcasting device they brought with them.


After over ten hours of conducting the event, both teams congregated at Illinois Tech’s RET Center Auditorium at 8:30 p.m. for food, a recap presentation, and a “Bitcoin 101” event put on by bIITcoin and presented by Bharel. This was the last chance people had to set up their wallets and get before finally closing what came together to be a successful though tiring event.