APRIL 13, 2022 — UTSA is advancing its plans to bolster San Antonio’s high-tech corridor and to build a one-of-its-kind School of Data Science to serve Texas. When the university opens the doors early next year to its new $90 million facility at 506 Dolorosa St., 30 world-class faculty members will re-locate from the Main Campus to educate and prepare graduate students for the data science jobs of the future.
With these faculty and students, the School of Data Science is on a mission to educate top data scientists and lead data intensive research. The vision of the school is to increase access and inclusion in a field of low diversity by producing data scientists who can make the world more equitable, informed and secure.
This vision is aligned with the long-term strategy of UTSA, a Hispanic Serving, Tier One research institution that aims to become a model for student success, a great public research university, and an exemplar for strategic growth and innovative excellence.
“This first cohort of faculty and students are embracing the university’s vision to enable more immediate access downtown to data science and analytics discovery talent,” said David Mongeau, the school’s founding director. “Sitting at the center of San Antonio’s thriving tech corridor, it opens the pathways for limitless industry innovation, as well.”
Mongeau says that the faculty and students will provide the critical mass needed to bring more discoveries and diversity to San Antonio’s growing digital economy, an industry that grew locally during the pandemic, according to a new Brookings Institute study.
Over the last several months, Mongeau worked with college deans and department chairs to determine which of the university’s data science-intensive degree programs and research labs could best advance interdisciplinary collaborations by being under one roof. They agreed to focus on graduate and upper-division students and researchers, which led to the decision to bring five degree programs to the new facility:
Faculty who primarily teach in these programs were prioritized for a move to the new building and will establish a strong foundation for the school as it opens:
The eight new hires among the faculty will bring increased expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, security policy and other areas to UTSA’s data science community.
“Integrating these new faculty members with established faculty and research labs from business, engineering, science and beyond adds another important dimension to the diverse, interdisciplinary data science environment that we need,” said JoAnn Browning, dean of the Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design.
During the fall 2022 semester, the School of Data Science will invite all faculty to become affiliates, and a faculty advisory council has been established to ensure that broad interests in data science and analytics are represented. Members are:
At least 16 UTSA research centers, institutes and college-level labs will be resident with the School of Data Science. Among them are the MATRIX AI Consortium for Human Well-being and the Open Cloud Institute. Other labs will enable research and teaching in bioinformatics, cyber-informed engineering, data engineering, IoT, robotics, smart transportation and more. The entire data science community will also benefit by working closely with the National Security Collaboration Center, which will anchor the top two floors with its embedded ecosystem of government contractors and federal partners.
Mongeau expects that in time 700 to 800 people will be collaborating in the spaces, energizing the facility daily. That energy will increase when the 300-seat conference space and weekly seminars and workshops are in use. Two national conferences are already confirmed for 2023, including the Academic Data Science Alliance and the University-Industry Development Partnership annual meetings. Additionally, a dedicated, ground-floor space will offer opportunities to showcase research and provide curated community partnerships and engagement.
“We are excited to reach this milestone in the evolution of our School of Data Science,” UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy said. “We applaud the hard work and collaboration of our faculty, who have come together across academic lines to build a new and vital data science resource for our community by amplifying the excellence of the College’s academic and research programs.”
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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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