Diego Martinez- 2018 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Recipient

Oregon science teacher Diego Martinez was selected by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation (AMF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Space Foundation as recipient of the 2018 Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award.

The award is given annually in recognition of creative and innovative use of technology by K-12 educators, or district-level education personnel. The award, named for Mercury and Apollo astronaut Alan Shepard, will be presented during the 34th Space Symposium opening ceremony on April 16 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA. The opening ceremony is co-sponsored by Northrop Grumman, and the award presentation will be followed with a by-invitation reception honoring Martinez, co-hosted by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation.

Martinez started his career as a Colorado Public School STEM teacher in 2007 and worked primarily in the San Luis Valley until 2016. He then moved to Oregon and now works as a Science Mastery Specialist for Delphian School, which he calls the SpaceX of education.
Among his achievements:

  • He has been a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison since 2008 and Space Center Houston Space Educator Expedition Crew (SEEC) member since 2017.
  • He collaborated with 2013 Alan Shepard Award recipient Daniel Newmyer on T.E.S.L.A. 1.0 (Teaching Extraordinary Students Lessons in Aerospace).
  • He built TeslaAerospace.org website, with the goal of making STEM-related careers, such as avionics, drone piloting and flight, accessible to a wider population. The site features free, self-paced learning guides designed to be studied by anyone.
  • He mentored hundreds of students in their scientific research projects for state, national and international science fairs, resulting in one gold medal and dozens of silver and bronze medals at the international level.
  • He created a school-wide educational party for SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch.
  • He founded, with wife Gail, the "Lindbergh Challenge," a nationwide aerospace challenge with student-built flight simulators and a challenge for students to fly them for 33.5 hours while learning about historic aviators, doing STEM lessons and logging simulation hours. Museums and schools across the country have pledged to participate with his team this May.
  • He arranged for a "Top Gun" student pilot from the Lindbergh Challenge in 2015 to take a flight lesson, and now more than 50 students have received initial flight lessons, leading to possible aerospace careers. The initial lessons were funded with the award money received when he won Colorado Lockheed Martin Science Teacher of the Year in 2015.
  • He developed Apollo Program workshops at Delphian School in partnership with Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon. These workshops were designed as a model for educators to engage the public with lunar samples and other historical artifacts representing the history of spaceflight.
  • He contributed to the success of Delphian School's public solar eclipse event in 2017, with more than 600 attending. The event featured a NASA planetary scientist as guest speaker, the Oregon High-Powered Rocketry Club, "Moon Vault" viewings with lunar samples and many other STEM engagement opportunities.
  • He is involved in Robotics Club, RC Car Club, the Association of Songwriters Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Science Fiction Fridays and has helped arrange a private tour of SpaceX for his students.