JUNE 15, 2023 — UTSA President Taylor Eighmy succinctly summed up the Alamo City at a conference this week in Washington, D.C.: “Where San Antonio goes is where many of our major metropolitan regions will go.”
It was a message that Eighmy shared with infrastructure leaders from across the country who were participating in the inaugural Advanced Research Projects Agency for Infrastructure (ARPA-I) Summit. The event convened government, industry and academia leaders and other stakeholders to advocate for the role they could play in ARPA-I’s investments in next-generation transportation technologies—innovations that are key to building more equitable communities.
UTSA is a recognized leader in biomedicine, innovative technologies, cybersecurity and social-economic transformation. The university plays a vital role in Texas’ vibrant innovation ecosystem and in the growth and sustainability of San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-largest city.
Eighmy joined San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg for the summit’s keynote discussion, “Better Infrastructure, Better Technology, Better Jobs.” The leaders discussed how San Antonio’s growing high-tech infrastructure is spurring new investments and new jobs in the city via a slate of large-scale projects.
“We are in the business of infrastructure ourselves,” Eighmy said. “The university is investing deeply in growing our downtown presence.”
It is an investment in cutting-edge technology as well. Earlier this year, the new UTSA School of Data Science (SDS) made its debut just blocks away from the university’s Downtown Campus. The school is one of five across the nation and the only one of its kind at an HSI.
Among the centers housed within the SDS is the ScooterLab, which is using a small fleet of battery-operated scooters that include various sensors. Data collected from these scooters—which are available to students at the university’s Main and Downtown Campuses—to spur micro-mobility and transportation research as well as to advance research in machine learning, high-performance computing, data analytics and privacy-enhancing technologies.
“I love to say that we are the university of the future in the city of the future,” Eighmy said. “There are a lot of positive things happening in San Antonio.”
Just a short drive from the UTSA Downtown Campus, the city of San Antonio is making plans to expand its airport.
“That has been our Achilles heel for more than a generation,” said Nirenberg of the airport. Plans call for building what he called “future-ready” airport on the site of the current facility, starting with a new terminal.
“Shovels will go in the ground [in 2024],” said Nirenberg.
ARPA-I was authorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It is the newest agency created under a federal model to fund innovative projects in fields such as energy and biomedical health solutions. ARPA-I is part of the president’s Investing in America agenda, a once-in-a-generation investment to modernize the country’s infrastructure. Federal programs like ARPA-I are often crucial to large-scale, high-dollar projects, including infrastructure projects, according to Nirenberg.
Case in point is a new mass-transit system that will run through the highest-poverty census tracts in the city. The project is part of the mayor’s plan to focus on “equitable, sustainable recovery as it relates to infrastructure.” San Antonio is partnering with the Federal Transit Administration to make this project a reality.
Beyond specific projects, San Antonio is also a model for how to create impactful partnerships. The R&D League, for example, a research and development program, was founded in 2020 by UTSA, the City of San Antonio, the Southwest Research Institute and USAA to address local civic challenges and to enhance San Antonio’s communities. The group is piloting different technologies to proactively address the city’s infrastructure needs, Nirenberg said.
Looking ahead, Nirenberg and Eighmy said that city-university partnerships will be crucial to driving investments in technology and infrastructure, which in turn spur economic and workforce development.
“We need to make sure we are fueling the workforce of the future to keep more dollars local and continue the expansion of small-business development,” Nirenberg said.
“We are taking advantage of the ecosystem we have, and it’s attractive to the private sector,” Eighmy said.
Lastly, the gentlemen expressed to the group their desire to host a future ARPA-I ecosystem summit.
“Come see the city for yourself,” Nirenberg said.
“Use us as a living laboratory,” Eighmy added. “We’re here to help. Put us to work.”
Don’t know where to start in looking for a job or internship? Virtually join in a live job/internship search navigation lab-style workshop. Follow along to bookmark and save opportunities you are interested in applying for.Student Union (SU 2.02.04,) Main Campus
Don’t know where to start in looking for a job or internship? 🔍 Primary platforms utilized during this workshop are Handshake and LinkedIn. Some industry-specific job search boards may be utilized.Student Union (SU 2.02.04,) Main Campus
First Friday Stargazing gives anyone free access to the night sky using university telescopes and teaching equipment. Weather permitting, experienced astronomers will provide a handful of telescopes of varying designs, give training on how each operates, and point to various astronomical objects that may appear in the sky for that given time of the year. If you have a telescope and do not know how to operate it, feel free to bring it and get instructions on its use.4th Floor of Flawn Science Building, Main Campus
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