Introducing GeoHornet Lab: Harris-Stowe State University’s Geospatial Hub at T-REX

Harris-Stowe State University GeoHornet Lab

The new lab will serve as an operation center for HSSU’s partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and as a career path launching pad for geoscience students.

ST. LOUIS (July 14th, 2021) – Harris-Stowe State University, a historically Black public university addressing the higher education needs of the St. Louis Region, today unveiled a new satellite location focused on advancing academic opportunities and career development initiatives within the geospatial technology industry.

GeoHornet Lab, based out of the T-REX Innovation Center in Downtown St. Louis, will introduce students to geoscience technology, build relationships with government and corporate partners, and forge workforce pathways in this rapidly growing sector.

“These are exciting times for Harris-Stowe State University as we continue to expand our STEM portfolio and offer educational and workforce development opportunities to students that provide access to St. Louis’ burgeoning geospatial ecosystem,” said Dr. Freddie E. Wills Jr., Vice President for STEM Initiatives and Research Partnerships at Harris-Stowe State University.

The new lab at T-REX will serve as an operation center for activity items under an Education Partnership Agreement between Harris-Stowe and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, allowing both HSSU students and faculty and NGA scientists and professionals to collaborate on innovative STEM education initiatives designed to solve the real world practical problems of contemporary cities, neighborhoods, and their physical cultural social environments. The lab will also continue collaborations with nearby corporate partners such as Maxar, to engage students in specialized mapping projects.

Such collaborations are already making an impact; Harris-Stowe kicked off a GeoHornet Mapathon at T-REX with participation by both Maxar and NGA earlier this year – the first in a series of such GeoHornet Lab mapping efforts. In fact, NGA will be establishing a geospatial technology lab of their own within T-REX, directly adjacent to Harris-Stowe’s new GeoHornet Lab. NGA’s Moonshot Labs is set to open this summer as well, making inclusive participation between these organizations even easier.

Christopher Buechner, a volunteer from Maxar, works with HSSU student Donovan Forrest to analyze and map through the OpenStreetMap program.

Christopher Buechner, a volunteer from Maxar, works with HSSU student Donovan Forrest to analyze and map through the OpenStreetMap program at the March 19th GeoHornet Mapathon at T-REX – photo courtesy of Maxar

Dr. Gary Higgs, professor of Geography at Harris-Stowe, has been tapped as a foundational mentor for students in undergraduate research projects focused on Graphic Information Systems (GIS). Dr. Higgs has taught geography and geographic subjects at Washington University, St. Louis University, and other St. Louis colleges and universities for more than 20 years. He earned his M.A. in Geography from St. Louis University and his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Illinois.

St. Louis, and specifically T-REX, is emerging as a global center for location-based science and technology advancements. With involvement from world-renowned research universities, Fortune 500 companies, dozens of existing geospatial organizations, and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the geospatial world is undoubtedly gravitating towards T-REX and the Downtown innovation community.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the addition of Harris-Stowe programming to our center,” said Mark Tatgenhorst, Geospatial Program Director at T-REX. “Between Harris-Stowe, NGA, the many geospatial partners making connections within our building, and our neighbors to the north in the Globe Building, Square, and others, we are truly building something special here much greater than the sum of our parts.”

This unprecedented cluster of innovation and geospatial excellence surrounding T-REX is redefining the new Downtown North neighborhood and forming the launching grounds for further collaboration and inclusive, groundbreaking partnerships in St. Louis’ exponentially growing location-sciences sector.


About Harris-Stowe State University:
Harris-Stowe State University (HSSU), located in midtown St. Louis, is a fully accredited four-year institution with more than 50 majors, minors and certificate programs in education, business and arts and sciences. Harris-Stowe’s mission is to provide outstanding educational opportunities for individuals seeking a rich and engaging academic experience. HSSU’s programs are designed to nurture intellectual curiosity and build authentic skills that prepare students for leadership roles in a global society.

About T-REX:
T-REX is a 501(c)3 nonprofit technology innovation center dedicated to strengthening the economic vitality of St. Louis, MO. With an emphasis on strategic initiatives that foster inclusive economic growth through technological ingenuity, T-REX houses more than 100 companies within its 160,000-square-foot facility on Washington Avenue in Downtown St. Louis. In 2020, T-REX opened the Nation’s first Geospatial Innovation Center on its fourth floor. This unprecedented and rapidly growing industry cluster is putting St. Louis on the map as the global center for geospatial and location-based technologies. Since T-REX’s inception in 2011, T-REXers have created more than 4,000 St. Louis jobs and are responsible for more than $620.9 million in annual economic output.