San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology’s new Area 21 is a national model in education — able to engage tens of thousands of students each year with hands-on learning developed by some of the world’s top innovators.
The continually evolving state-of-the-art exhibits will showcase San Antonio-based innovations to audiences from across the nation and around the world.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — Large-scale demonstrations of three-dimensional printing of habitats on the moon, responding to cybersecurity scenarios that simulate real-world threats, seeing the inner workings of a self-driving vehicle, taking rides in flight simulators for upcoming generations of electrically-powered aircraft, and designing and building one's own personal computer are just some of the experiences that visitors will enjoy at Area 21, the new expansive space launched by The San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT).
The 20,000-square-foot multi-faceted exhibit is the latest big component to go online at Tech Port Center + Arena — the innovation center in the heart of Port San Antonio's innovation campus which opened last spring.
Located at 3331 General Hudnell Drive, the museum space is now open to the public at no charge.
At Area 21, SAMSAT and a growing array of partners are significantly scaling the reach of innovative programs that they delivered over the past five years in the museum's original space — a former Air Force chapel across the street from the new location.
Area 21 at SAMSAT
Tech Port Center + Arena
3331 General Hudnell Dr. | View Map
San Antonio, TX 78226
Monday - Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Photo credits: Mark Sobhani Photography.
Since SAMSAT opened that initial modest facility in 2017, an average of 20,000 students from across the community have engaged every year with hands-on learning delivered by top experts in fields that include cybersecurity, aerospace, lunar architecture, robotics, bioscience and others.
The new space at Tech Port Center + Arena, which is several times larger than SAMSAT's initial and highly successful proof-of-concept, will accommodate well over 100,000 K-12 visiting students every year through activities that include enrichment programs coordinated with all area school districts, summer camps and internship and volunteer opportunities.
Photo credit: Mark Sobhani Photography.
Area 21 has also enhanced the range of exhibits that give visitors a close-up, hands-on experience of industries on the Port campus and across the region. The NASA-backed WEX Foundation and affiliated entity Astroport, cybersecurity leader CACI, Plus One Robotics, Northworks Automation, Andy Robot and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) are among the organizations who have contributed to the development of the latest exhibits and related programming. More are expected to participate in the months ahead as the museum hosts a continually evolving set of exhibits and programs that showcase ongoing developments in San Antonio's tech community.
SAMSAT'S vast new Area 21 exhibit is the latest large space to open its doors within the Port's innovation center — Tech Port Center + Arena, which launched earlier this year. Photo credit: Port San Antonio.
As it strengthens Tech Port Center + Arena's growing profile as a destination for regional, national and global innovators, Area 21 will also be home to a vibrant mix of activities that connect industries, educators, the public and potential buyers across the nation and around the world. Other activations in the new space will also include industry meetups, presentations by leading technology experts, product demonstrations, and other events that inform and bring together people from all walks of life while bolstering San Antonio's tech ecosystem.
"This is such an exciting huge step forward in our growth and our commitment to transform the lives of young people and others across our community by showing how they, too, can be a part of the groundbreaking technologies that are thriving across San Antonio," said Museum Founder and CEO David Monroe.
Through its Mobile Autonomous Robotics Technology Initiative (MARTI), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is developing intelligent vehicle technology for unmanned ground and active safety systems. At Area 21, students can observe an SwRI-developed unmanned vehicle on display (above) while learning about the technology that steers this innovation (below). Photo credit: Port San Antonio.
"Area 21 has been a vision long in the making. It is the culmination of years of tireless hard work by our amazing team, a growing array of dedicated industry and educational partners who are contributing time and resources to our success, and our integral partners at Port San Antonio. The Port has wholeheartedly embraced our vision since they welcomed us with open arms five years ago. They have been by our side every step of the way in this incredible journey in our shared passion to change lives and build futures," he added.
"Our commitment to Tech Port Center + Arena, and to the museum that is now expanding its reach thanks to the new space, is the latest big milestone in the history and the future of this great property," said Port San Antonio Board Chair Chris Alderete.
"For the first century of its existence, this land, which straddles the former Kelly Air Force Base, is where thousands of families found opportunities by taking part in the world of aviation — the leading technological frontier of the last century," she added. "Now, through the opportunities that are being presented through the new venue and with the support of a tremendous group of partners, we have our eyes firmly focused on connecting the dots for our community in the century ahead."
"In the past five years, employers on our large campus have created more than 5,000 great jobs in the very sectors that are being showcased at SAMSAT and around which some terrific learning experiences are being built," said Port President and CEO Jim Perschbach. "There are some significant opportunities ahead to keep growing these leading-edge industries right here in San Antonio as our innovations are being used around the world."
Developed by a local high school student, an augmented reality sandbox allows Area 21 visitors to create and customize their own world. Photo credit: Mark Sobhani Photography.
"The key to this success, and to future growth, is to ensure that we keep investing in people. First, we must inspire them and raise awareness of what is already happening in our community. And second, we need to deliver exciting and empowering learning tools and pathways so they can take part in, and lead, the evolution of technologies that are making our planet a more productive and more resilient place for all humankind," he added.
Photo credits: Port San Antonio/Mark Sobhani Photography.
Since the launch of the museum's first facility in 2017, Port San Antonio has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, and provided full spectrum strategic assistance, in support of SAMSAT's operations and development of programming and exhibits. Among these are the launch of its first cybersecurity simulator and the addition of a large training center to support K-12 and workforce training endeavors. The new state-of-the-art space for Area 21 is offered at no cost to SAMSAT.
Students get a first-hand look at a state-of-the-art broadcast booth located at Area 21, which features live-stream video footage from throughout Tech Port Center + Arena and serves as the control hub for events occurring at the arena. Photo credit: Port San Antonio.
To further underscore the Port's commitment in preparing upcoming generations of talent, the organization's Board of Directors has instructed to direct all profits from Tech Port Center + Arena — including net proceeds from concerts, conferences, industry events and dining amenities — to the Kelly Heritage Foundation. The standalone 501(c)(3) nonprofit established by the Port is funding groundbreaking STEM, workforce development and advanced educational programs throughout the community, including several developed by SAMSAT and its partners.
Located adjacent to Area 21, Tech Port Gaming is home to the only LAN gaming center in Southwest San Antonio. The gaming center is open daily and is also available for group, birthday and private event rentals. Photo credits: Mark Sobhani Photography.