The newly opened San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT) has found a long-term home in the heart of Port San Antonio’s 1,900-acre campus.

The nonprofit SAMSAT is a museum that explores the past, present, and future of technology in San Antonio. Created in 2016, the collection was temporarily housed in a showroom at the locally based security company e-Watch Corp. off of I-10 West near Friedrich Wilderness Park. SAMSAT’s goal is to become a world-class science and technology museum and a center of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) innovation.

The museum will relocate to the Port’s 14,000 sq. ft. Mabry Conference Center at 102 Mabry Dr., where it can deliver an array of STEM education programs in partnership with area educators and other stakeholders beginning this summer.

The Mabry building will provide space for SAMSAT to develop a preview facility, a STEM center, and over the long term, a museum to showcase different technological displays dating from the 1800s to the modern era. SAMSAT founder David Monroe amassed the large collection, including hundreds of items ranging from early computing machines to first-generation inventions that have revolutionized the world, including wireless networks, camera phones, and cybersecurity hardware.

mabry conference center SAMSAT
SAMSAT’s new home at the Mabry Conference Center at Port San Antonio. Credit: Courtesy / Port San Antonio

“We are excited calling southwest San Antonio our new home in a space that is ideal for us to advance our work and inspire young people to pursue technology careers right here in our community,” said James Castro, SAMSAT president and CEO. “Our new facility gives us a solid foundation to deliver programs, engaging demonstrations, and displays connected to these and other fields.”

Castro, Monroe, SAMSAT Board Director Shawn Williams, and Museum Curator Jeff Wyatt from The Museum Practice, along with others, plan to reach out to the greater San Antonio community with a more interactive website for booking tours and a Facebook page for future events.

“By July, we plan to begin offering scheduled youth group tours featuring STEM programs for middle and high school students ages 11-19,” Castro said. “Our goal is to recruit volunteers and establish more structured hours by September.”

Museum leaders hope to move the entire collection to Port San Antonio throughout May. Items not on display at the Mabry building will be stored in warehouse space at the Port. SAMSAT will launch with a portion of its collection curated for display and programming at the Mabry around three themes: cybersecurity, the development of the personal computer, and early communication.

Early Datapoint MINX Video Conferencing Unit- SAMSAT Collection
Early Datapoint MINX unit for video conferencing. Credit: Courtesy / SAMSAT

Initially, tours will be available by appointment only until the museum’s volunteer base is established and fundraising supports the hiring of permanent staff.

“Our intention is to be able to grow SAMSAT along with the Port,” Castro said. “Over the course of the next 12 months we will be doing long-term planning with community leaders, an exciting process for the museum.”

Castro looks forward to exhibiting SAMSAT’s collection of technical artifacts that tell the story of key technological milestones over the past 100 years, including the role San Antonio played in that history.

“SAMSAT is a perfect strategic partner as we continue to attract modern industries and grow the number of good jobs they provide today’s and tomorrow’s generations,” Port San Antonio President and CEO Roland Mower stated. “It is essential that we connect with area schools and families through innovative efforts like SAMSAT to reach young people early in life. This will help them see firsthand how technological advances over the past century have revolutionized our lives and, most importantly, how they can personally focus their ambition and education so they can have a role in writing the future chapters of that history.”

“As we seek to guide and inspire the next generation of talent, it is very fitting that SAMSAT has selected the heart of the Port as its new home – a place that is itself rich in history and opportunities as a center of technological innovation,” said City Councilman Rey Saldaña, whose District 4 includes the portion of the Port where SAMSAT is located. “SAMSAT will help inspire and attract generations of future engineers, scientists and other technology professions that we are growing right here.”

As for Castro, the move to Port San Antonio is only the beginning for the development of SAMSAT into a world-class STEM museum.

“We also desire to be a significant contributor to San Antonio’s tech ecosystem,” Castro said. “Once we have planted our roots at the Port, we plan on reaching out to the many stakeholders interested in what SAMSAT can offer that will help grow local interest and talent in STEM career fields.”

The artifacts at the museum come from founder David Monroe’s personal collection. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone.
SAMSAT founder David Monroe’s personal collection is the source of the museum’s artifacts. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / San Antonio Report

The Port broke ground on a state-of-the-art Project Tech complex last month that will provide office space for San Antonio’s growing cybersecurity community. The first building, scheduled for completion in 2018, will be Project Tech’s first facility and anchor a planned office development that could total more than 500,000 square feet across 17 acres, according to Port officials.

“Superior know-how has been the bedrock of America’s growth in the past century and created the world’s largest economy,” Mower said during the ceremony. “By offering an innovative space that better enables like-minded individuals to work together toward shared goals in cybersecurity and other advanced technologies, we are sharpening San Antonio’s globally competitive edge.”

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science and veteran affairs.