In October 2020, ICON DAO teamed up with IT academy Devera and the Vietnam National University to launch full-credit ICON blockchain courses at VNU, through which they have introduced more than 200 student engineers to ICON. In August 2021, they submitted a new proposal on the Contribution Proposal System (CPS) to run two more courses this autumn.

Well, the first semester-long course finished on December 16, and nine students passed with flying colors (out of 17 total final project submissions). It was a course on Mobile Development With Flutter, which used a Flutter SDK built for the ICON network.

The second course, on the broader topic of ICON Blockchain Development, is still ongoing. Devera is doing what they can to improve the graduation rate for this course. There are 45 students enrolled altogether between the two courses.

The graduating requirement for both courses is tough, but rewarding — the students have to complete a finished ICON product of their own making.

The course wrapup coincides with a big ICON 2.0 hackathon hosted by Devera, in which their students are participating with members of the public — totalling 179 registrants altogether — to build 13 or more new ICON products. Hackathon entries will be completed by the end of the year, and winners will be announced in January.

Meaning, at least 22 unique ICON products are coming by year-end thanks to the combined efforts of Devera and ICON DAO, not to mention the dozens of budding programmers that have been introduced to the ICON blockchain. While some of these products may be student projects that need improving upon, it’s still undoubtedly useful to have these applications built in the first place. The high value of this CPS project can not be overstated.

Let’s hear from the students

The student programmers come from a wide range of backgrounds, including computer science, computer networks, data communications and e-commerce. We chatted with two students to hear about their experiences in the Flutter course they just completed. (Flutter is a Google-built open-source UI software development kit that makes it possible to easily develop cross-platform applications. The course also used Dart, which is a programming language built by Google for web and mobile app development.)

Long Pham and Hieu Vo are both in their final year of their Software Engineering degrees at the University of Information Technology of Vietnam National University. They both expressed a lot of excitement about working with the ICON network, and with the versatile Flutter development kit.

Both students built task management mobile applications for the course, with the end result being Trello-style to-do list managers. The apps also support collaboration between team members.

“This project was extremely valuable as it gave me a lot of experience in building mobile applications and helped me get familiar with Dart and Flutter,” Long Pham said. “I was amazed by Dart and Flutter as they allowed me to develop on android, ios and even web applications.”

Hieu Vo also built an ICX wallet. He said the app is “small, but it can do some major tasks such as managing transactions and transferring coins to other wallet addresses, as well as some basic functions that a mobile app needs.”

The apps are not exactly end-user friendly, of course, as they are built by students and haven’t yet gone through a proper professional testing process. However, it is through the process of building such applications that new ICON programmers are made.

“Though my projects still lack scalability, security and are mostly full of bugs, I feel very excited because these two projects are my very first time to learn about new frameworks and technology like Flutter and blockchain,” Hieu Vo said.

Long Pham is also participating in Devera’s hackathon, for which he is developing an ICON-based cryptocurrency exchange platform on which users can buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum and other altcoins. It also tracks news and coin prices in the crypto world.

So, has the course convinced these ICON developers to stay on for the long haul? They certainly expressed interest in the network and technology.

“I’m really into blockchain technology. In my point of view, blockchain is becoming one of the most integral parts of our life as its application expands widely into various fields in human society such as trading, education and entertainment. So, I would like to become a part of the blockchain development process,” Long Pham said. “In the foreseeable future, I hope to finish my current crypto project on time. After that, I wish to get deeper into blockchain technologies such as DeFi, POS and POW with the ICON network because they could provide me a stepping stone to enrich my skills and become a professional blockchain developer.”

Hieu Vo stressed that this particular course was especially valuable because the instructors explained very clearly why certain procedures must be followed, while his previous instructors would not elaborate as much.

“I don’t know if my code is good enough for business logic. Just getting my code to run successfully was everything I needed from my previous courses. This course taught me that even if my code works, it might still be bad,” Hieu Vo said. “Of course, I want to continue working with the ICON blockchain, but I’ll leave that for now to focus on improving other important skills. My plan is to become a good mobile developer first, then dedicate my time to learning and working with the ICON blockchain.”

More developers and more exposure for ICON

These students may still be in university, but there is a lot of actual ICON development coming out of these courses, too. In fact, 10 students from the Devera courses have gone on to join ICON DAO as contributing developers.

This month’s blockathon is also going well. “The students seem to be excited about the hackathon,” a representative from Devera told us. “The fun thing is that they were just ordinary programming students who focused only on coding when they studied with us. But since the launch of our hackathon, they have shifted to examine the potential of ICON crypto investment because the hackathon prizes will be awarded in ICX. We think they have become more and more attracted to the ICON blockchain world.”

The course is also good exposure for ICON in Vietnam. With blockchain technology quickly catching on in Southeast Asia, this may be a key market to focus on.

“We pay great attention to the selection at the entrance to ensure the quality of students,” Devera told us. “Our students are all from top universities specialized in training science and technology engineers at Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City.”

“We believe in the motto of focusing on quality over quantity, because that will be the leverage to help our reputation grow significantly in the coming years.”