UTSA holds virtual groundbreaking for School of Data Science



Credit: UTSA

JANUARY 25, 2021 — UTSA today marked the groundbreaking of its $90 million School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center, the first new building in a series planned as part of its Downtown Campus expansion, with a virtual celebration.

The 167,000-square-foot, six-story structure on 506 Dolorosa St. will sit along San Pedro Creek east of IH-35, anchoring UTSA to San Antonio’s prospering high-tech corridor and serving as a catalyst for economic and community investment in the San Pedro Creek area. The project advances the university’s vision to earn national recognition as a research-intensive institution and bolsters San Antonio’s national standing as Cyber City USA.

“For more than 20 years UTSA has been a pioneer in cybersecurity and also now offers best-in-class programs in data science, cyber manufacturing, cloud computing and artificial intelligence,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “This new transdisciplinary building, which is deeply connected to the economic well-being of San Antonio and will house the first School of Data Science in Texas, will enable UTSA to prepare students for the high tech jobs of the future and to grow its ecosystem of government, industry and academic partners tackling society’s grand security challenges.”

The SDS will include nearly 86,000 square feet of classroom, laboratory and research space for the 6,500 data science students who are projected to take classes there by 2022. UTSA’s 70-plus faculty members in cybersecurity, cloud computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence will be located there, enabling more frequent collaborations with government, industry and community partners in the heart of San Antonio. The university’s computer science, computer engineering, statistics and data sciences, and information systems and cybersecurity departments will reside in the new facility in addition to its Open Cloud Institute.

The NSCC, which includes more than 81,000 square feet for innovation, laboratories and research, will be co-located with the SDS. Currently operating at the Main Campus, the center is a hub for government, university and industry partners in the cybersecurity field.

The Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be co-located within the NSCC as well as various collaborative efforts in forensics; visualization and analytics; network security, cyber training and workforce development; big data analytics and privacy; postquantum cryptography, cyber-physical systems and embedded security; cloud security; attack and threat modeling and mitigation; machine learning and artificial intelligence; and platform, software and hardware integrity.

Fusing data science, cybersecurity and cyber manufacturing under one roof in San Antonio’s tech sector will elevate UTSA as an innovative leader in addressing national security challenges.

“There is no other place that has built an ecosystem combining the community’s business strengths and research expertise in data science, information management and cybersecurity like our ecosystem here in San Antonio,” said Eighmy.

Construction on the SDS-NSCC building is funded with $75 million from The University of Texas System Permanent University Fund and a $15 million gift from San Antonio business leader Graham Weston.

“The UTSA School of Data Science will be at the heart of the thrust of new innovation over the coming decades. We can be a national leader in this field–one of the few schools that really separates itself from the pack,” said Weston. “This is going to change the face of what UTSA is, and my prediction is UTSA is going to be famous around the country and the world in data science and cybersecurity.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff added, “San Antonio and Bexar County have the largest cybersecurity presence in the nation outside of Washington, D.C. Communities likes ours that have well-educated young people in cybersecurity and data science are going to have a big edge on other communities.”

The UT System Board of Regents approved the design development for the SDS-NSCC building last November. Whiting-Turner | Jacobs | Overland designed and will construct the building. In December, Whiting-Turner began removing the parking lot at the property, which UTSA purchased from the City of San Antonio. Construction is expected to be complete by July 2022.

The new building will be accessible and attractive to the community. The center will house a ground-level café, in addition to a large, multipurpose, public event space for students and tenants.

“The expansion of UTSA’s Downtown Campus footprint is beneficial to San Antonio in so many ways,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “From the residential life and vibrancy of a 24/7 place of recreation and business to having some of the most profound emerging economies centered in the heart of our city, the National Security Collaboration Center and the School of Data Science will attract the kind of talent and employers we want to see grow in San Antonio.”

In the coming years UTSA plans to further expand its Downtown Campus footprint. It will construct its 250,000-square foot Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Careers Building just west of the SDS-NSCC building at the site of the demolished Bexar County Jail. This College of Business expansion is expected to be completed in 2025.

Plans for the university’s third Dolorosa Street property are in development.


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Milady Nazir
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