Today's SAMSAT is a merger of two non-profits, SAMSAT and SASTEMIC. Their complementary strengths have led to today's organization and mission. SAMSAT inspires innovative minds through exploration of the past, present and future of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. In the process, SAMSAT helps creating a capable STEM workforce, advocates for STEM, and connects stakeholders across the San Antonio community.
In 2011, a group of STEM volunteers in the San Antonio community were talking about the need to systematically advocate for STEM education in San Antonio, bringing together many pockets of activity to create more great experiences for students, more talent in the local workforce, and more collective impact. After much discussion, Scott Gray took the first step, forming a Texas non-profit corporation, along with co-founders Patrick Felty, Joe Sanchez, Andrew Schuetze, and Cliff Zintgraff. Scott created the name, which reminded us that STEM education is a system that involve all stakeholders in the community.
The first was to build networks in the community, and as circumstances would have it, SASTEMIC soon built a partnership that would change its trajectory. Geekdom and the 80/20 Foundation were looking for an organization to own and operate its mobile STEM bus. Soon, SASTEMIC took ownership of the Geekbus(TM), a mobile STEM space, and with the generous help of the 80/20 Foundation, the first staff was hired. Today, the Geekbus serves over 10,000 students a year, inspiring students to learn STEM topics, learn communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking skills.
When did SAMSAT founder David Monroe start collecting the items found today in the museum? One answer is that it started while he worked at Datapoint, but a different answer is that he started as a child, building radios (see below) and more, items now on the museum floor. The heart of SAMSAT is its collection of electronics,communications, computer, and cyber artifacts. These artifacts collected by David are now the platform for student STEM experiences students, and they make an inspirational setting for adults.
David first set up the museum in his place of business on Interstate 10, e-Watch Corporation. e-Watch's facility used to be a Ducati motorcycle shop, and it would soon be Tesla's showroom. Before Tesla arrived, it would be a place that San Antonio colleagues and leaders could see the collection, and they could also peek in the warehouse for the "Indiana Jones" experience, seeing that by far, most of the collection was still in boxes. What they could see out of boxes was Edison's 10,000 pound dynamo (for electricity distribution), a horse-hair light bulb, and a WWII Enigma machine captured by the Allies during WWII (watch the movie!).
With success in delivering Geekbus services, SASTEMIC expanded, delivering camps, training teachers, running STEM clubs, and licensing the Geekbus method and curriculum to others in the U.S. SASTEMIC expanded staff, and in 2016, hired a permanent Executive Director. SASTEMIC secured new major sponsors, including Tesoro (later Andeavor), and then Boeing. SASTEMIC also received significant support from Silver & Black Give Back, USAA, Google Fiber, Accenture, AT&T, Frost Bank, the San Antonio Mayor and City Council, and ongoing support from Rackspace, and other meaningful private contributions. SASTEMIC benefited from in-kind contributions from Whataburger and Booz-Allen-Hamilton.I
In 2015, SASTEMIC's Board Chair learned of a new museum in town. The San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology (SAMSAT) had opened in the current location of e-Watch Corporation, and future location of Tesla. The potential was obvious, and by the end of 2015, SASTEMIC and SAMSAT hosted "STEM History in San Antonio" at the museum, hosting student teams, guests from across the community, with then-Councilman Nirenberg as the keynote speaker. Soon after, the organizations were represented on each others' boards. SA Smart, The Mayor's K-12 Smart City Challenge, developed with Mayor Nirenberg, would be one of the first joint events hosted at SAMSAT's new location at Port San Antonio.
Events for students started at the I-10 location, and they picked up significant after the 2017 move to Port San Antonio. Most of these events were co-hosted by SASTEMIC, who provided STEM education staff for programs. There were many other events: a SAMSAT launch party at Port San Antonio, podcasts, and even a fashion show! However, through all these events, the main focus remained how to use the museum and location to inspire students toward more STEM education and career choices. Such choices can be transformation for students, families and communities.
By the end of 2018, SAMSAT had hosted over 10,000 visitors at its Port San Antonio location, through every-Saturday Family Days, school tours, school STEM activities, and adult events. Along the way, SAMSAT had built a strategic relationship with Port San Antonio and was central to plans for an Innovation Center serving the Port, the immediate region, and the city as a whole.
SAMSAT moves forward with many strengths. Between the two organizations, it has eleven years of organizational experience running STEM programs in San Antonio. The organization is strategically strong, building on relationships with Port San Antonio and area industry and other partners. Its mix of products and services can be delivered in schools or at the museum, and they serve students, families, teachers, industry partners, and other non-profits. The mission and activities are aligned with the priorities of San Antonio. The organization is financially strong thanks to revenue from services and from the generous support of funders. SAMSAT is well positioned to serve San Antonio for many years to come.