Minnesota Teacher Selected as the 2024 A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Educator of the Year

The National Aviation Hall of Fame names St. Thomas Academy Innovation Center’s Mark Westlake the 37th “Crossfield Kid”

(DAYTON, Ohio – August 11, 2023) The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) announced today that Mark Westlake STEAM Specialist and Director of the St. Thomas Acadamy Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been selected as the NAHF’s 2024 A. Scott Crossfield Educator of the Year.

The Crossfield Award, founded in 1986 by NAHF Enshrinee Scott Crossfield, is a juried annual competition to recognize a teacher for his or her exemplary use of aerospace in their classroom curricula. Crossfield, who was inducted into the NAHF in 1983, was a renowned test pilot, research pilot, and aerospace researcher. His tests with pressurized suits led to the development of the space suit.

The successful nomination was made by Ms. Caroline Little, Middle School Science Teacher and 2021 Crossfield Educator of the Year. In her nomination, Little said, “Mark’s infectious love of engineering and drive to bring ‘real world’ STEM into the classroom and lives of every student he encounters was a key factor in opening the Saint Thomas Academy Innovation Center. This nationally renowned engineering space is so much more than a set of 3D printers, laser cutters, and 3-axis mills. It is a place where innovation comes alive; where drones whiz past as students design aerodynamic pieces for their NASA rover, where engineering students work on designs for a washing machine for the International Space Station, and where life science students are 3D printing cells.” She goes on to say, “It is because of teachers like Mark Westlake that students and teachers alike look towards the heavens with the same sense of awe and wonder that launched the first mission to the moon.”

Westlake also serves as Moderator of the Saint Thomas Academy Experimental Vehicle Team, is a Lemelson-MIT Invention Education Fellow, and is a Notre Dame Trustey Senior STEM Fellow, coaches a drone racing team and fosters the inventive spirit in teachers and students all over the United States. His teaching career spans over 30 years, and his passion for science and engineering can be seen in the projects and contests he makes available to students and teachers. Classroom activities include NASA HUNCH (High Schools United with NASA Creating Hardware), STEM Day for 3rd-5th graders, NASA WEAR (Wearable Equipment to Avert Radiation), and the only high school selected to participate in NASA SOAR where students designed, fabricated, and tested an instrument that measured vibration and atmospheric conditions in the unpressurized payload area of a WB-57 High AltitudePlane.

Westlake has earned multiple honors and awards for his work with science and engineering students, including Disney Magic Maker Teacher of the Year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Master Teacher, and National STEM Teacher of the Year.

On receiving the award, Mr. Westlake said “The list of previous A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Educator of the Year teachers is so impressive! I am humbled to be included among the likes of Susan Mallett, Caroline Little, Megan Good Tucker and Jill Weaver! Any success that I have experienced is directly related to my amazing students, who are always willing to take on a new project without any fear of failure. Watching them solve problems and learn new skills gives me tremendous hope for our technological future! Thank you for continuing to support educators and their students.”

Westlake will receive the award on September 13, 2024, at the President’s Reception as part of the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s 60th Enshrinement events. Over 600 people are expected to attend two days of events in Dayton, OH. that feature the formal installment of the NAHF Enshrinee Class of 2024; pioneers Peggy Chabrian, and (the late) Joe Sutter, visionaries (the late) Gary Burrell, Min Kao and (the late) Don Bateman, and aerospace heroes Frederick Gregory and Katherine Johnson.

The NAHF’s 60th Annual Enshrinement Dinner & Ceremony is open to the public by advance registration only. Limited sponsorship opportunities and individual seats are still available. To purchase tickets or find more information, visit www.nationalaviation.org or call 937-256-0944 ext.16.