DAREC Deepens Duke’s Efforts to Educate Engineers in FinTech

October 7, 2021 | Mark Schreiner

Farman-Farmaian gift supports the new Digital Asset Research & Engineering Collaborative

Teymour Farman-Farmaian

Digital-asset industry entrepreneur Teymour Farman-Farmaian is a 1988 Duke economics graduate.

Unheard only a few years ago, terms such as blockchain, cryptocurrency and NFTs are now subjects of the nightly news, advertising and across-the-back-fence chats.

The idea behind these digital assets is as simple as it is disruptive: Information technology that enables the global creation and transfer of items of value.

This growing array of tools, each made up of billions of lines of computer code, is engineered. And, students come to Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering to learn from research and industry experts and to earn a Master of Engineering in Financial Technology.

Now, Duke Engineering is preparing to launch DAREC: the Digital Asset Research & Engineering Collaborative—an online research repository of up-to-the-minute, high-quality analyses and commentary on digital assets.

“Duke’s approach to teaching these skills is multidisciplinary, bringing together experts in law, economics, finance, management and engineering. I am pleased to be able to support this work through the launch of DAREC.”

Teymour Farman-Farmaian T'88 | Founder and CEO, Nowmatic

DAREC is made possible by a gift from Teymour Farman-Farmaian, a 1988 Duke economics graduate, tech executive and digital-asset industry entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of the digital payments company Nowmatic. Previously, he had served in senior management roles at Google, Zynga and Spotify.

“The computer engineering that is the foundation of financial technology, cryptocurrency and digital assets is already revolutionizing the way people bank and make payments, and its potential in other areas is vast,” Farman-Farmaian said. “Duke’s approach to teaching these skills is multidisciplinary, bringing together experts in law, economics, finance, management and engineering. I am pleased to be able to support this work through the launch of DAREC.”

The gift from Farman-Farmaian, said Jeff Glass, interim dean of the Pratt School of Engineering, “provides important support for Duke Engineering’s continuing efforts to continually bring greater interaction with industry into our educational programs for students and working professionals.”

The vision for DAREC is to provide an online resource of open research, analysis and commentary that is academically and computationally rigorous, said Jimmie Lenz, director of the Duke FinTech programs. “We think this resource will contribute greatly to the understanding of important digital asset issues, such as cryptocurrency, asset pricing, risk management, regulation and more. Moreover, it will be a resource not only for our students but for the industry and the public.”

DAREC will be an initiative within Duke Engineering’s Institute for Enterprise Engineering, which provides high-impact professional education to respond to fast-evolving industry needs, especially in the areas of AI and machine learning, cybersecurity, financial technology and engineering management. The educational programs offered range from online and on-campus master’s degrees to online educational credentials offered through university partner Coursera to virtual one-week short courses designed especially for working professionals.

The first step in establishing DAREC will be a publicly accessible website to collect in one place the blog posts, op-eds, scholarly journal articles, essays and podcasts already contributed by Duke experts—darec.duke.edu.

Lenz will share oversight of DAREC with Emma Rasiel, Duke FinTech’s associate director. Rasiel is also a professor of the practice of economics at Duke and director of the Duke Financial Economics Center.

“Teymour’s gift will allow us to add a post-doctoral fellow who will be the DAREC project leader,” Rasiel said. “This, in turn, will enable the creation of regular white papers and other commentaries on issues of the moment related to digital assets, such as market regulation, legislation, policy issues and other factors.”