UTSA selects architect for School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center

February 8, 2019 | The University of Texas at San Antonio

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) today announced several key advancements to bring its School of Data Science (SDS) and National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC) plans to fruition. Jacobs, a national architecture and engineering firm, in partnership with Overland Partners of San Antonio, has been selected to lead the design of the building that will house both the SDS and NSCC in downtown San Antonio.

Collectively, the SDS and NSCC will catapult UTSA’s ability to advance economic development in the urban core and create greater prosperity for San Antonio. The university, which is already home to the No. 1 cybersecurity program in the nation, is an academic and industry leader in producing highly skilled professionals in big data and analytics.

A $15 million gift from San Antonio business leader Graham Weston is advancing the project, which will propel UTSA’s interdisciplinary approach to cybersecurity, big data, cloud computing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence – the engines that power the Internet.

“By consolidating these experts into one collective space that is specifically designed for their research needs, we will create new synergies and become more research intensive,” said Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA’s interim vice president for research, economic development, and knowledge enterprise and the Jane and Roland Blumberg Professor in Bioscience.

The new building will include classrooms, teaching laboratories, research laboratories, a collaboration studio and maker space, and a visualization laboratory. Currently, there are over 3,500 graduate and undergraduate students at UTSA studying cyber and related fields in programs spanning four colleges.

It will also house the NSCC, the state’s largest hub for government, university and industry partners in the cybersecurity field. To date, the center has secured more than 30 individual partners; twelve are currently co-located on the Main Campus, working with UTSA faculty and students to advance research, education and workforce development in cybersecurity, data analytics and cloud computing. Since its opening in October 2018, UTSA has secured over $2.5 million in research funding to support the NSCC’s mission.

To lead the SDS and NSCC, UTSA is actively recruiting two executive directors in a hiring process that is expected to be completed this spring.

“We are pursuing exceptional leaders to take the reins of the School of Data Science and National Security Collaboration Center,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “The executive directors will have the capacity for disruptive leadership and transforming the way government, academia and industry work together to solve global grand challenges. Ultimately, they will play pivotal roles in establishing San Antonio as the nation’s top producer of research and workforce talent in data intelligence and cybersecurity.”

The SDS and NSCC are major components in UTSA’s phased, 10-year approach to accelerate the development of its Downtown Campus. To increase collaboration and share common spaces, the SDS and NSCC will be co-located in the same building on Dolorosa, just east of the Downtown Campus, on a parcel of land that UTSA is in the process of purchasing from the City of San Antonio. This plan creates an ecosystem that ties together the business strengths of the community, the research expertise of UTSA and the academic opportunities for students under one roof.

The project will cost $90 million. Seventy million will come from the Permanent University Fund allocation that the UT System Board of Regents approved last fall. Weston’s $15 million gift and an additional $5 million in university funds will fully advance the project.

The University of Texas System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction and UTSA Facilities are jointly managing the project. Jacobs and Overland Partners will spend the next few months working on the design plans before construction begins in spring 2020. The new building is expected to open during the 2021-22 academic year.

“Jacobs is an outstanding architectural firm, and I’m confident they will help us create an open, modern, exciting space that enables collaboration among our faculty, students and NSCC partners,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I know this new building will advance the continued transformation of our downtown and ultimately will prove to catalyze new programs and synergies.”