For some of us born in the 21st Century, the impact of railroad technology sometimes goes unappreciated. Long before railways criss-crossed across the country, people and goods embarked on journeys lasting upwards of months, or in some cases, years. Reliability of arrival and the chances of survival from from one destination to another were low.

If the video game Oregon Trail taught us anything, dysentery and rivers harshed many mellows.

However, once steam technology and railroads popped up, culture and communication changed dramatically. For reference, you could travel from New York to San Francisco in as little as 3½ days. Goods moved from state to state more freely, and people gained access to new markets and places like never before. This growth fueled our modern idea of cities, and populations exploded as people traveled seeking new opportunities.

While trains basically served as the Amazon.com of the time, lest not we forget that these steam-powered monsters also connected population centers with improved communication. Erected alongside most rail lines was this new fangled invention called a telegraph. Messages were moving faster than people or goods, and in this way, the railroads laid the track for nearly instantaneous connectivity with virtually anyone around the world today.

As the railroads grew and converged across the country, cities became hotbeds of energy and excitement. In fact, railroads were so important that cities often lived and died by the train system. Some of the most prosperous and important cities served as invaluable hubs for communication as well as the importing and exporting of goods, and many of these hub cities are still relevant today.

Lubbock, TX, for instance, was incorporated the same year that the railroad rolled into town. That rail line served Lubbock for a long time, and the city quickly grew into the hub of the South Plains. When the rail lines ebbed in importance, Lubbock had already established itself as one of the most important cities in the region and earned its nickname of the “Hub City.”

It was no longer simply a destination on the rail line: it was the gateway to the entire South Plains region.

Lubbock today is still a city about movement, but now it’s a different kind of movement: the movement of new ideas, of technology, and of innovation.

Lubbock: A History of Innovation

Innovation sometimes means something different to different people. We could bore you with a textbook definition of innovation, but instead, we want to voice what innovation means to us. We believe innovation is about growth. It’s about taking chances and trying something new. Oftentimes, this aspect of innovation is confused with recklessness, but pioneers draw on their experience. They have vision.

For years, Lubbock inspired innovation as people passed through, bringing the latest and greatest inventions. However, it’s also important to remember that Lubbock wasn’t simply a stop on the train line. It was–and is–an important birthplace of innovators in its own right.

Take, for example, Lubbock-native Buddy Holly. In just a few short months, Buddy Holly launched a career that revolutionized the music world. He and his band defined the modern idea of a rock n’ roll band: the now-traditional two guitarists, bassist and drummer ensemble. He made the Stratocaster the de facto rock n’ roll guitar. He had vision. He had talent. He tried something new, and in a little more than a year and a half, he changed music forever.

Buddy Holly might be one of the most high-profile innovators from Lubbock, but he’s far from the only one. In fact, thanks to smart investments and a major research university, thousands of innovators flock to the Lubbock area, and Hoverstate plans to make the most of this wide pool of talent.

Finding the Next Big Idea

Big names have come out of Lubbock, but there are more big names to come. Why are we so certain? Because the city is investing in its infrastructure, just like it had in the past. Once it brought the railroads, and now the city is looking to create a new atmosphere of growth and innovation for the 21st Century.

Although the railroads might have given Lubbock its nickname of the Hub City, they don’t define the city anymore. Ideas don’t travel by rail these days–unless the idea is, “Why didn’t we take a plane again?” or “Why don’t we have a national high-speed rail system?”

More often than not, major innovations and ideas come from research, study, and intense contemplation. And that’s why Lubbock’s Texas Tech University is a huge asset to the city and one of the major reasons why Hoverstate chose to open our Innovation Hub there.

Texas Tech has turned out some serious talent when it comes to programming. That should come as no surprise, as they are a tier 1 research facility, and as such boast tremendous resources and exceptional faculty. Their Computer Science program is globally recognized and named as one of the best in Texas. Students in the program enjoy small class sizes and receive individualized attention from their professors. Even better, the program is research focused, guaranteeing that students and faculty members continuously explore new ideas.

While Texas Tech graduates find success in all corners of the world, Hoverstate saw an opportunity to tap into this wonderful human resource and reach out to the passionate students attending the University. That’s what inspired us to develop an internship program, and that connection to the university was the seed that grew into the Lubbock Innovation Hub.

From Interns to Pros

With Texas Tech in our backyard, the conditions were perfect for some Hoverstate magic. Texas Tech’s College of Engineering Department of Computer Science sent us their best and brightest, and we put these moldable minds through their paces with our internship program.

Spoiler alert: they blew our minds with their eagerness to learn and become master systems architects.

We were so impressed that we started inviting interns during both summer and spring semesters. These young Red Raiders dazzled us at every turn. Under the watchful eye of our experienced experts and mentors, the students became the masters, to paraphrase A New Hope. And we don’t say that lightly. These students worked full time with our team, all the while becoming fully trained systems architects as they attended classes on campus.

By the end of their internships, they were pros in every way but title–and then they took the certified systems architect exam. This exam is no joke. Remember taking the SATs? The CSA exam eats the SAT for breakfast. It tests candidates on a wide range of topics, grilling them on how to develop applications and testing a baseline understanding of what CSAs do.

Unsurprisingly, though, our interns made short work of the CSA exam. That wasn’t the end of their journey, though. Instead of taking their mastery and working at companies elsewhere, some began to work on our internal projects or even shadowed our team members.

These internships were the start of what became the Innovation Hub. Students continue coming to the Hub and get their training, but we had the idea to begin offering this same treatment–the same in-depth dive into the power of Pega–to professionals already in the field.

Call it professional development or the next step in your career. We call it the Innovation Hub, and it’s how you can become a certified systems architect.

The Innovation Hub is just getting started. As time goes on, we know that the people who come through will improve our team and businesses around the world. And we hope that we’re going to give a whole new reason to call Lubbock the Hub City.

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