San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT) to launch facility to help people prepare for growing careers in advanced technologies.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - In the wake of sudden and large unemployment surges in the energy, hospitality and other sectors hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT) and Port San Antonio will launch a new integrated training center this summer that, in collaboration with educational and workforce development partners, connects those recently displaced to new learning and career opportunities.
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On Wednesday, the Port's Board of Directors approved a $500,000 annual sponsorship package to support SAMSAT's various educational and economic development activities on the Port campus, including leasing the upcoming space at no cost to the museum.
The facility will create a place where SAMSAT and other educators and workforce development partners can deliver an array of training and placement services — helping to support the region's education and training programs. Among them are important efforts coordinated by Workforce Solutions Alamo, with funding through the City of San Antonio and Bexar County (Bexar County Strong Workforce Program), along with support from The Alamo Colleges District, Project Quest and SAWorks.
The center's immediate priority will be to help the thousands of San Antonians who have recently lost their jobs, as well as helping those still employed who wish to enhance their skills to access new careers.
Robust sectors such as information technology, cybersecurity, aerospace, robotics and advanced manufacturing seek new talent as they continue to advance their growth plans. On the Port San Antonio campus alone, employers currently seek to fill hundreds of open positions, including programmers, technicians and IT/cybersecurity specialists.
The new tech training hub will be based in a former fitness center — a 27,000-square-foot building at 5035 SW 36th Street. In the weeks ahead, SAMSAT - who will operate the facility - will work alongside the Port to repurpose the interior. The layout, which will feature large spaces that include a basketball court, will host training programs that allow for social distancing, easy clean-up and other best practices.
The upcoming tech training center will be located near the proposed site for the Port's planned innovation center and several of the region's key technology employers.
The upcoming facility includes large spaces, such as a basketball court, that will be repurposed as classrooms that allow for social distancing and other best practices.
The facility will also give SAMSAT and partners the possibility of extending their reach across the community through programs that can be produced at the center and subsequently delivered online.
The facility is an immediate step to meet urgent community needs while the Port, SAMSAT and other partners continue to move forward with planning a comprehensive innovation center. That effort, with design approaching completion, envisions an approximately 130,000-square-foot new state-of-the-art facility that can host an array of in-person and virtually streamed events and programs.
It will include a space for SAMSAT's expansion, as well as for adjoining classrooms. Other features include a 2,500-seat arena for technology training and demonstrations, an industry showroom and prototyping labs, where local employers and universities can collaborate in the development of innovations that are continuing to create new jobs for San Antonians.
Among its many uses, the Port's planned innovation center will further support skills training for adults and other educational programs for people from throughout the region.
"For over 100 years, our campus has been a place of opportunities that transformed the lives of families across the region," said Port San Antonio Board Chair Chris Alderete, recalling the history of the Port campus as the site of the former Kelly Air Force Base. "Today, in the middle of a global crisis that has impacted people throughout our community, we, our friends at SAMSAT and our many partners have a unique opportunity to ensure that we continue delivering on our promise as a place for building futures. The Port Board and the rest of our team are honored to be part of another important collaboration that takes quick and bold action to address our community's immediate needs while, at the same time, we keep forging ahead with important plans for our long-term future."
"There is no better investment than education," said SAMSAT CEO Doug King. "Opening the doors of inspiration and learning for young people as we have been doing since we began on the Port campus is already putting thousands of students across San Antonio on a path to success. Now, with the upcoming training center that we will launch in a matter of weeks, we will be able to take another important step by applying the same principles and open doors for adults across our community, especially at a time when it is needed most."
“San Antonians are a hardworking, resilient people, and when given the right tools and an opportunity, they can do great things,” said San Antonio Councilmember Adriana Garcia Rocha, whose District 4 includes the upcoming facility. “Creating a single operation that brings together people across our community impacted by sudden unemployment, and then easily connects them with an array of training programs and tech jobs that continue to thrive at the Port and throughout San Antonio, is a win-win all around. I’m thrilled that San Antonio is once again demonstrating our can-do outlook in times of adversity, and this collaborative model sets the stage not just for today’s urgent needs, but ensures that people will have access to opportunities for years to come.”
“Times of crisis also give us an opportunity to rise to the occasion and show our strengths—as individuals and as a community,” said San Antonio Councilmember Shirley Gonzales, whose District 5 also includes a large portion of the Port campus. “I applaud all of the partners who are working hand-in-hand as part of this effort—thinking pro-actively on the ways that we can serve thousands of people right now and well into the future. The new initiative will be an instrumental part of our recovery, and it will also serve as an important lesson for all of us that, even as adults, there is great value to always keep learning.“
"Our increasingly connected world is changing at an unprecedented pace — creating careers and other opportunities that simply did not exist even a few years ago," said Port President and CEO Jim Perschbach.
"In San Antonio, we have a long history of people whose hard word and determination gave rise to innovations that changed the world — from the dawn of aviation to the computer revolution," he added. "Now, we have another great opportunity to write the next chapter in that story by ensuring that today's workers — no matter where they are in their careers — are prepared with the skills that are in demand right now so they can be part of the latest technological revolution."