In any conversation about “hubs” that involves startups, there is but one undisputed champion. Silicon Valley. Its got the technological roots (microwaves, etc), education system (Stanford, etc), and lots of capital (rich people love places like California). Sure you have your New York Citys and Denvers, but SV in unrivaled on just about all of those criteria (For arguments sake, of course. I have my own reservations about the SV gospel).

Here’s how this logic works. Silicon Valley had the technical background and military research to first get the furnace burning. Then you start throwing top-notch engineering grads from Stanford to keep the innovation moving everything further. Finally you throw in huge investments to sustain the natural growth and voila–tech city.

One aspect of this model that I’ve yet to see explored in depth, however, is the echo effect. There’s often talk about SV being an echo chamber that distorts peoples perceptions of reality (“What do you mean you don’t check in every time you buy a coffee?!”).  But what I’m referring to is related to the educational component.

You see, where I go to school is also hub–albeit a drastically different one. Its a distinguished and expensive University thats heavily recruited from. This is a good thing for many students. The problem is, this University is surrounded by remote farming communities. And among these farms are large industrial farming equipment manufacturers (the aforementioned recruiters). While Silicon Valley has Google, the Central Mid-West has Caterpillar.

And since a University and its surrounding community of corporations has a vested interest in one another, they are often closely related. Here in Peoria, Illinois, it is commonplace to apply business teachings to industrial manufacturing and diesel engineering. This is what those who teach the classes know best. Learning about international business? Well lets talk about the budding heavy-equipment manufacturing industry of China.

On the other hand at Stanford you’re lectured by titans of the startup world. Sergey Brin may give a guest presentation one day, and then the next you go sit in Steve Blanks class. The education–regardless of subject–is deeply woven into a technological context, and thus best prepares any new graduate to take on those similar challenges. Instead of Chinese manufacturing, perhaps Indian computer science is more appropriate.

I admit that much of what I’ve written about Stanford is speculative. It is merely an extrapolation of what I’ve personally experienced in my own education. But the implications of all of this can be far-reaching for both graduating students such as myself, and prospective students of the future. If you want to start a business selling rib eye steak, do you think its wise to spend four years of education surrounded by vegetarians?

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