Saint Thomas Academy’s Westlake Named 2018 National Space Educator of the Year by the National Space Club

News Date : 03/07/2018

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn., March 7, 2018Saint Thomas Academy Innovation Center Director and Founder/Co-moderator of the Experimental Vehicle Team Mark Westlake has been named the 2018 Space Educator of the Year by the National Space Club and Foundation. The Space Educator Award, bestowed annually on only one secondary school teacher in the country, recognizes teachers for motivating and guiding high school students in the study of careers in space science and technology. Westlake will be honored at the 61st Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner on Friday, March 16 in Washington, D.C.

“This award is well-earned recognition for Mark’s hard work, creativity in teaching and dedication to the boys of Saint Thomas Academy,” said Matthew C. Mohs ’90, headmaster of Saint Thomas Academy. “Our boys recent participation in two NASA educational programs is a direct result of Mark’s initiative and ingenuity. He leaves no stone unturned when seeking new ways to engage students in STEM disciplines, including the study of space science.”

A former physics instructor, Westlake incorporated space science into his curriculum and sought opportunities for students to delve more deeply into space science. These include the Visions of Exploration program through the Air Force and USA Today, NASA’s Microgravity University for Educators (MgUE), and the NASA Student Opportunities in Airborne Research (SOAR) programs. Through the Experimental Vehicle Team, he has helped birth many engineering careers, including that of one alumnus who now works for SpaceX. 

Westlake is a previous National Teacher of the Year for the Air Force Association and a TEKNE Award winner. He is also a master teacher for the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam program, and served as chairman of the advisory committee for the Solar Car Challenge. He has been with Saint Thomas Academy since 1989. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas. 

About Saint Thomas Academy
Founded in 1885, Saint Thomas Academy is an all-male, college preparatory, Catholic, military/leadership school committed to preparing young men to succeed in college and in life. The Academy challenges its students in grades 6-12, to excel academically, spiritually, morally and physically in and out of the classroom. It is fully accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS); a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the Minnesota Association of Independent Schools (MAIS), and the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States (AMCSUS). For more information, please visit

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Saint Thomas Academy Innovation Center Director and Founder/Co-moderator of the Experimental Vehicle Team Mark Westlake enjoyed the awards gala with his team at Scuderia-Ferrari in December 2017. The Academy's Experimental Vehicle Team won an all- expenses-paid, week-long trip to Ferrari's headquarters in December for winning the 2017 Shell Eco-marathon.


Saint Thomas Academy Physics Teacher Kara Ehlert and Innovation Center Director Mark Westlake at Johnson Space Center.


Saint Thomas Academy students were the only high schoolers in the country invited to participate in a NASA pilot program, Student Opportunities in Airborne Research (SOAR), in the fall of 2017.


Mark Westlake, Saint Thomas Academy innovation center director, and founder/co-moderator of the Experimental Vehicle Team.

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