Space Foundation Press Releases

Science Teacher Diego Martinez is 2018 Recipient of the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Feb. 28, 2018) - Oregon science teacher Diego Martinez has been 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.

The Space Foundation's annual Space Symposium is the premier gathering of all sectors of global space leadership, attracting thousands of participants from dozens of countries. Visit for complete conference information. To learn more about Space Foundation STEM education programs, please visit

About Diego Santana Martinez
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 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.

About the Astronauts Memorial Foundation
Founded in the wake of the Challenger accident in 1986, AMF honors and memorializes 24 astronauts who sacrificed their lives for the nation and the space program while on a U.S. government mission or in training. AMF, a private, not-for-profit organization, built and maintains two major facilities at the John F. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Space Mirror Memorial is a 42-foot high by 50-foot wide polished granite monument designated by Congress to be the national memorial for America's astronauts. At the Center for Space Education AMF partners with NASA to inspire future generations of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians. Students, teachers and mentors experience building rockets, robotic competitions and other hands-on space-related learning activities led by NASA space education specialists. The Center for Space Education also houses a massive conference space with state-of-the-art audio/visual capabilities. This conference space is used for NASA Day of Remembrance ceremonies as well as educational programs, community and international conferences throughout the year. This year marks the third year the NASA collegiate Robotic Mining Competition involving over 500 students from almost 50 colleges throughout the nation will be utilizing this space. For more information about AMF visit

About the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA is an agency of the United States government, responsible for the nation's civilian space program and aeronautics and aerospace research. Operational since 1958, NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. It has led U.S. space exploration including the Mercury and Gemini space programs, the Apollo missions to the Moon, the Space Shuttle, U.S. involvement in the International Space Station, the Hubble Telescope and robotic interplanetary and distant space missions. NASA is also responsible for long-term civilian and military aerospace research and research focused on better understanding Earth, the solar systems, and the universe beyond. For more information, go to

About the Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and the world's premier organization to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate on behalf of the global space community. It is a nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs, and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium. Space Foundation headquarters is in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, and has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere® and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a Washington, D.C., office and field representatives in Houston and the Florida Space Coast. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space CertificationTM and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit both of our websites – and – and follow us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

# # #

Space Foundation Contact:
Carol Hively, Director - Public Relations & Team Communications
[email protected]