Graduate and/or Senior Undergraduate Student Opportunities

A research and funding opportunity being offered by NRC-IRAP to allow up to five students (graduate and/or senior undergraduates) to work with a local Alberta company (SME) on an innovate project. The projects are related to blockchain technologies and their applicability in an application of interest to the SME. The projects are either in the early stage of development/vision or are innovations to existing applications that might benefit from blockchain innovations.

Funding for the student will be $10,000 for a 4-month period, ideally starting in September. Each project will have an engaged industry mentor and will be overseen by an ISPIA faculty member. The number of hours required will vary depending upon the nature of the project and in conversation with the mentor and supervisor. There are currently three projects that are seeking an interested student and a brief description is provided below.

If you are interested in one of these projects, please contact Ken Barker ( by sending a CV and letting me know which project you are interested in exploring. I will then connect you with the SME involved for subsequent discussions.

If you are a graduate student, please ensure you have spoken with your supervisor to ensure they are supportive of your working on this project. 

Data Ingestion

Public blockchains typically offer a large number geographically distributed access points; these so-called API access points have public-facing IP addresses and RESTful endpoint to accept transactions for inclusion into the chain.  A sensor device placed anywhere in the world can send data to a geographically close access point, with a list of redundant access points at the ready should any one fail to accept data.  Compare to sending data to an application hosted with AWS or Azure; typically companies building such solutions will embed a single fixed IP in their devices that will be "homed" to a specific data center or region.

Data Authentication

If a blockchain accepts a transaction into a block, it is by definition authenticated - guaranteed to be signed by the holder of a particular private key.  My sensors place their data inside a blockchain transaction and sign it with a private key that is known only to the device itself, and securely "burnt" onto the device, inaccessible to any outside actor.  In other words, data that is accepted into the blockchain dApp can only have come from the device that created it - hence the "trusted sensor" portion of the system.  Blockchains are a great platform for building this kind of large scale data provenance and authenticity (since the capability is built-in) and along with my trusted sensors, can form the backbone of globe-spanning tracking and supply chain management solutions.

That's basically where blockchain comes into the picture.  I have requirements and an overall design developed for the dApp, and an existing but rudimentary proof-of-concept with an RFID tracker. 

Data distribution and access is another matter, and I would like to explore the use of IPFS for this.  IPFS "seed" nodes would exist to contain the trusted sensor data brought in from the blockchain layer.

Your student could help with:

  1. Data distribution -  moving data from the blockchain itself into IPFS - we can explore 2 ways to do this.
  2. dApp development.  The blockchain I'm going with right now is based on EOSIO software, offering a bizarre form of C++ for dApp development, I've written and deployed some dApps for this platform and can guide the student there as needed.

Ghostlab, a company founded by industry vetrans with over 10 years of experience in the bitcoin and blockchain industries is looking for a student to help evaluate and potentially implement our own bitcoin node infrastructure.  We'll be starting with the assumption that the industry leading free, open-source software Cyphernode is the leading choice.

This project will be at the cutting edge of commercial implementation of blockchain technology at the base layer. We'd like an intern to evaluate and potentially implement the following open source project which essentially serves as an API wrapper with a bunch of micro-services to allow our software to interact directly with a bitcoin node without having to expose it's RPC calls to the internet.

The goal is to  save us significantly on the fees we are currently paying to use third party APIs. It would also allow us access to the L-CAD stablecoin which would save us some processing fees.

Promera Inc. is a local tech start-up operating in the healthcare space. We’ve developed a platform (i.e., innerme) that helps women diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy create a personal health profile that can be communicated to their care team in a trusted way. The importance of innerme has grown since the onset of Covid-19, as it can be used to help remotely monitor patients.

We are looking for the intern to generate two tangible outcomes. The first is a survey paper of blockchain platforms and a recommendation as to which one would best meet our business needs. The second is a roadmap on how to best use blockchain technology to solve innerme’s challenges surrounding privacy-focused health data sharing. We anticipate working directly with the intern and their supervisor to make sure the roadmap is actionable and capable of being implemented into the innerme platform at a later stage.

We are seeking the following skills:

  • Interest in blockchain technology and its applications.
  • Understanding of backend database design and management.
  • Independent and creative problem-solving.
  • Self-motivated and able to work independently.
  • Good communication and team skills.