November 13, 2016 – Bryan DeBates, Space Foundation Vice President – Education and Elias Molen, Manager – Space Education, were recently honored by the Colorado Air Force Association with the Colorado Medal of Merit. The award was given to DeBates and Molen for their work in the partnership between the Space Foundation and the Air Force Association’s (AFA) StellarXplorers program.
Each year, schools from across the U.S. and from overseas Department of Defense locations compete in a series of challenges using Systems Tool Kit, modeling software created by Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI). The top 10 teams competed last April in the National Finals in the AGI Space Missions Simulation Lab at the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
For this school year, the top 10 teams will compete at the Space Foundation Discovery Center, April 5-9, 2017. The competition is scheduled so that the finals coincide with the Space Foundation’s Space Symposium each year. Students competing in the event will also have the opportunity to tour the 33rd Space Symposium’s Boeing Exhibit Center during their time in Colorado Springs.
The event has grown in popularity over the past two years. In 2016, 27 teams registered for the StellarXplorers program, and that number has grown to 135 for the 2017 competition.
“The partnership between the Air Force Association and the Space Foundation has turned out to be an incredible opportunity for the young people who compete in this event. These students are our future space leaders and workforce, and they are learning valuable tools for their future careers. This partnership also shows what kind of programs can be created when schools, industry and organizations such as the Space Foundation and the Air Force Association, work together for the good of students and the good of our future workforce,” said DeBates. “I am deeply honored by this award, and look forward to working with the Air Force Association for many years to come.”
“The StellarXplorer program is an ideal example of the perfect partnership between our mission here at the Space Foundation to “inspire, enable and propel” students to future careers, and the missions of the Air Force Association, the educational outreach of Analytical Graphics, Inc., and the inspiration of the Space Symposium,” Molen said. “This is a powerful program, and I hope it continues to spread to high school students around the world.”