Texas continues to be seen as the place to grow a business and has the data to prove it: last year alone, the state was recognized as the leading destination for companies relocating from other states, according to the Texas Economic Development Office.
Unsurprisingly, Texas is seeing an increasing appetite for talented professionals and research capabilities as these businesses look to the future.
This is one of many reasons that The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) recently unveiled San Pedro I, a world-class facility that will usher in a new era of high-tech education, research and innovation in Texas.
Located in the heart of downtown San Antonio, the $91.8 million facility will house UTSA’s new School of Data Science and its National Security Collaboration Center, advancing economic development in the urban core and creating prosperity for San Antonians as well as for current and future Texans.
San Pedro I is the first project in UTSA’s phased, 10-year approach to accelerating the development of its downtown campus as a destination for producing highly skilled professionals in data science, data analytics and national security. The expanded capacity the facility provides will further position UTSA, a Hispanic-serving, Tier One research university, to serve Texas’ growing population and support the state’s future development.
The 167,000-square-foot facility includes 84,000 square feet of flexible classroom, laboratory and research space that is organized into four “neighborhoods,” encouraging collaboration between data science students and faculty members and related science and engineering career fields. Four suites and 10 offices are built into the facility for companies that want to co-locate in the building.
“I am immensely grateful to Graham Weston, the UT System, the Board of Regents and our City of San Antonio and Bexar County partners for their shared belief in our vision to drive workforce development, economic development and knowledge generation for San Antonio and Texas,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy.
“We intentionally developed San Pedro I to sit in the heart of downtown San Antonio where it will attract unique government-university-industry partnerships in the fields of data science, cybersecurity and national security. This is a big day for UTSA, our region and our state.”
The UTSA School of Data Science is the only school of data science in the U.S. at a Hispanic-serving institution. This distinction will enable the university to help diversify the nation’s current generation of data science professionals, a group that will shape the emerging data science industry in the coming decades. According to Forbes and other studies, less than 10% of data science professionals are people of color and 3% are women of color. At UTSA, 56% of master’s students overall are women and 64% are people of color.
The new school, led by founding director David Mongeau, will provide data-intensive academic and research programs to inspire and prepare a generation of diverse data scientists who can make the world more equitable, informed and secure.
It will initially offer five best-in-class master’s degree programs: artificial intelligence, computer science (with a data concentration), data analytics, statistics and data science and applied statistics. The school will also host several bootcamps, certificates, seminars and workshops to help emerging and advanced professionals expand their technology skills and grow in their careers.
San Pedro I’s downtown location will enable UTSA to address San Antonio’s immediate workforce needs by connecting UTSA students to hands-on learning opportunities. These practical learning experiences will enable graduates to apply their classroom knowledge in a real-world setting, giving them a competitive edge in the job market. At the same time, pairing students with local employers gives hiring managers a first look at the talent UTSA is producing.
“San Pedro I is a powerful demonstration of the great collaboration that exists between UTSA, the City of San Antonio and Bexar County,” said Veronica Salazar, UTSA chief financial officer and senior vice president for business affairs. “This state-of-the-art facility serves as a catalyst for advancing educational and career opportunities for UTSA students and also for transforming the core of downtown San Antonio’s tech corridor with new partnerships and prospects.”
The National Security Collaboration Center, Texas’ largest hub for government, university and industry partners in national security, advances research and innovation in forensics, visualization, cybersecurity, data analytics, post-quantum cryptography, attack and threat modeling and mitigation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and software, hardware and platform integrity.
Additional areas of collaboration include training and exercise evaluation, workforce development and educational opportunities for students and the broader military community. Retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Guy M. Walsh serves as the center’s executive director.
San Pedro I was financed by $70 million in Permanent University Funds approved by The University of Texas System Board of Regents, a $15 million gift from longtime UTSA philanthropist Graham Weston and $5 million in university funds.
“UTSA’s commitment to bring many thousands of new Roadrunners to the heart of downtown San Antonio is something to be celebrated by our entire community,” said Weston. “The promise and potential of the School of Data Science is that our city’s best and brightest young men and women can grow into the most competitive hires in the fields that will shape the future of our economy, and great companies waging the global battle for tech talent will know that the road to victory goes through San Antonio, Texas.”
San Pedro I is the first of two Downtown Campus facilities that will anchor UTSA to San Antonio’s and South Texas’ prospering high-tech corridor. The university is also in the planning stages for a new $161.2 million Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Careers building, to be known as San Pedro II. Together, the two buildings will provide the expanded footprint UTSA needs to increase its efforts in innovation, entrepreneurship and career-engaged learning to make a statewide impact.