Kunal Shah

@kunal.shah

A Revolutionary Approach to Academic Validation Using Ethereum

CryptoCreditor is a HackRice 2017 project by Kunal Shah, Jack Duryea, Shashank Mahesh, and Yorke Rhodes IV. It provides a fast and secure degree verification solution via blockchain technology. Check out the source code on our github.

Students at Rice and at universities across the country are currently in the process of applying to internships and full-time positions. A critical step of the employment application process is convincing employers of the validity of academic credentials.

The Problem

Existing solutions for verifying the integrity of academic degrees are slow, expensive, and inefficient. The problem lies in how academic records across the country are stored and retrieved.

Universities rarely distribute or verify transcripts themselves. Rather, they outsource this responsibility to The National Clearinghouse. This relieves universities of the costs of managing records on a case-by-case basis, but creates a central authority responsible for answering all academic verification queries.

The resulting system necessitates redundant transactions by the middleman and creates an inefficient medium between students, employers, and universities.

Our Solution

We’ve built a decentralized application on top of the Ethereum network to allow the secure and instantaneous validation of academic credentials.

Our solution uses the blockchain as a ledger of academic credentials. The underlying technology is a distributed peer-to-peer record-keeping solution that builds a system of trust around academic credentials.

How it works

There are two portals: a university portal and a student portal.

Through the university portal, users are required to authenticate themselves as accredited universities. Once authenticated, they are granted access to edit the credentials associated with their namespace. When their changes are submitted, a transaction is written to the Ethereum network updating the ledger with the new records.

Through the student portal, users must authenticate themselves as enrolled students under an accredited academic institution. They are then able to specify a namespace, such as a university name, to query their credentials. Students are then able to specify precisely which of their academic credentials they would like to officially forward to an employer’s address or email. This system limits direct access to the universal academic record keeping blockchain to educators and students, while providing a seamless portal through which to validate credential to interested third parties.

The credentials stored in the blockchain can also extend beyond university degrees to store and verify high school diplomas, standardized test scores, specialized certifications, and more.

Why it’s better

The Ethereum network and the underlying blockchain technology provide a single source of truth that is distributed across a multitude of nodes. This distribution immunizes the system against attack or failure of a single node. Not only does it streamline the middle man in degree validation, but it resists fraudulent access and accreditation.

The National Clearinghouse claims to save 3600 universities nationwide a collective $750 million annually. Our solution automates their verification model with added security and speed. Therefore, we can arguably claim that our application of blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt a $750 million process.

This model of trust structured as a credential provider (university) and a credential seeker (employer) can very easily be extended to build a digital portfolio of attestations for credential holders (students). Blockchain enables this model of trust.

Further applications

The applications of the Ethereum network and underlying blockchain technology apply far beyond the scope of academic validation. The technology brings an unprecedented level of security and customizable business logic to transactions of any kind. Our application can be customized to serve as a record-keeping platform for financial trades, skill certification, digital identity, object ownership and far more.

Pictured from left: Kunal Shah, Yorke Rhodes IV, Jack Duryea, and Shashank Mahesh.

Call to Action

We’re in the process of launching a blockchain club at Rice University!

Our goals are:

  • Further understand blockchain technology
  • Explore its use cases.
  • Invite guest speakers to demonstrate their use of and experience with blockchain tech.
  • Materialize our learning by building more decentralized applications.

If you’d like to get involved, write me a note at ks45@rice.edu!

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