Andrew C. Taylor sees a future that includes St. Louis being “the world’s true center for geospatial excellence,” and Harris-Stowe State University will help the region there.
Through a legacy investment, Taylor, executive chair of Enterprise Holdings, Inc. and Greater St. Louis, Inc. has helped establish the Taylor Geospatial Institute. Its goal is to make St. Louis the go-to region for geospatial science.
The eight institutions that will work together through the Taylor Geospatial Institute are The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Harris-Stowe, Missouri University of Science & Technology, St. Louis University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Washington University.
“Geospatial is an opportunity to make a real difference in this region. We can’t miss on this one,” he said during a launch press conference Thursday on the St. Louis University campus.
“It is the critical technology in nearly everything we do, and it is imperative that St. Louis have the world’s leading geospatial research institution to fulfill our promise as the global center for geospatial technology in the next decade.”
The quest to become a geospatial mecca is enhanced by construction of the $1.7 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on a 97-acre site in North St. Louis. It will replace the NGA facility located south of downtown.
In addition to the main operations building, the new campus includes two parking garages, a visitor control center, remote inspection facility and a central utility plant. Construction is expected to be complete in 2024 and the campus will be operational in 2025.
LaTonia Collins Smith, HSSU president, said she welcomed the invitation to be a partner in the Taylor Geospatial Institute.
“Engagement in the Taylor Geospatial Institute further advances our STEM agenda at Harris-Stowe State University. We are working toward to broaden participation in STEM by underrepresented students,” said Smith.
“We are excited about the spirit of collaboration among the member institutions, who will all work together on exciting new geospatial research. Local institutions of higher education working collaboratively signals a bright future for our city, region, and the global society.”
Donivan James, a SLU graduate student, said fate brought him here from Kansas City, where he earned an undergraduate degree at UMKC.
“I got a job offer,” he said with a smile.
“I became a geospatial analyst and I wanted to get an advanced degree. The Taylor Geospatial Institute will not only enhance that degree by connecting me with the nation’s best researchers, but it will also open numerous opportunities for me in St Louis after graduation.”
The Taylor Geospatial Institute “will act as a regional hub for access to and development of technology powered by big data analytics and computing resources to support a collaborative research and training environment,” according to a release.
Its focus will be on:
§ Food security – informing climate-smart farming practices while simultaneously increasing biodiversity and agricultural output.
§ Core geospatial science & computation – leveraging an interdisciplinary network of knowledge, technology, and skills to make geospatial science more powerful and impactful.
§ Geospatial health – measuring location and its influence on community health to improve healthcare systems and outcomes throughout the world.
§ National security – maintaining a leading edge over adversaries through innovation in cutting-edge technologies and a commitment to creating a highly-skilled geospatial workforce.
“This is a bold step forward,” said Jason Hall, Greater St. Louis Inc, CEO.
“Geospatial technology is a once in a lifetime opportunity for St. Louis.”