Photo courtesy Ben Hubbard
Mississippi Coding Academies, a program that Innovate Mississippi launched in Jackson in 2017, named Ben Hubbard as its statewide director of development and outreach on March 21.
The academies train recent high-school graduates for 11 months to gain enough functional knowledge and skill in coding to take a computing project from start to finish, which is what is called a “full-stack coder.” MCA has facilities in Jackson and Starkville.
As director, Hubbard will coordinate efforts with nonprofits, technology companies and government agencies to grow the academies and help expand to new locations. He will also coordinate efforts within the company to share information among different departments to improve efficiency.
“Coordination is key, but it can be difficult, especially in the startup industry,” Hubbard told the Jackson Free Press. “Whether you’re in Mississippi or Silicon Valley, in a small organization everyone is busy and performing multiple tasks or roles, and there need to be processes and procedures in place to work with that. I’m here to make sure the academies have the tools they need to make coordination go smoothly inside and out.”
Hubbard, 37, was born in Brookhaven and went to high school in Louisville, Miss. He graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering and computer science in 2005. He received a master’s degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007.
While at MSU, Hubbard was part of a program called the Cyber Corps, a cyber-security scholarship program that the National Science Foundation sponsored for the federal government. He received a two-year full-ride scholarship through the program and then owed the federal government two years of service after graduation. He chose Eglin Air Force Base in western Florida.
Hubbard served as a software developer and solution architect for the United States Air Force at Eglin from August 2005 to September 2009. While there, he worked on computer applications to help manipulate data for weapons testing, including bomb explosions and missile launches.
In 2009, Hubbard co-founded a Jackson-based software startup called Navagis and also served as the company’s vice president of solution engineering. The company is based around Google Maps and Google Cloud, and helps businesses to use those technologies to improve services such as telecommunications. Navagis has around 60 employees across offices in the United States, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines. Hubbard left the company to start his new position with MCA in early 2019. He moved from Starkville to Mathiston, Miss., in February 2019.
“I had worked with Innovate Mississippi on networking and fundraising efforts for Navagis as far back as 2014,” Hubbard says. “I joined up because I believe in Innovate and MCA’s mission for economic development in Mississippi. MCA is giving underserved people and communities the opportunities they need to become software professionals and entrepreneurs. My hope is to make the academies a world-class training organization that will serve as a model for others in the software industry to work off of.”