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ABOUT US

The Aerospace & Innovation Academy (AIA) provides unique STEM experiences, opportunities, and after-school programs for motivated middle and high school students and educators. From camps, after-school clubs, tutoring, consulting, and classes, the AIA can help your student stand out on resumes as well as help teachers to excel in the classroom. Many of our former students have gone on to attend prestigious boarding schools out of middle school, have been accepted at high schools of their choice, and many others excel at Science Fair and numerous other competitions. Our students present at conferences, write technical papers, and advocate at our state and national level on behalf of aerospace. Your students can experience these opportunities too!

Virtual and face to face options in Palm Beach County and Tampa, FL available.

THE TEAM

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Kevin Simmons photo, our primary educator

Kevin Simmons
Co-creator of AIA

Kevin L. Simmons is a professional educator with a gifted endorsement and licensed to teach Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Math, and Earth/Space Science in grades 6-12. He founded BLUECUBE Aerospace, Inc., co-created the Aerospace and Innovation Academy, Inc. (AIA), and currently leads the Wolfpack CubeSat Development team (WCDT) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. While integrating entrepreneurship into his classes, Simmons is also the "Techie" side of the AIA. He is Principal Investigator WeissSat-1 and CapSat-1, CubeSat missions selected by NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) in 2017 and 2019. He led the first middle school team to launch a CubeSat on December 3rd, 2018 and his WCDT was the only K-12 entity selected nationwide by the 2019 CSLI. He is trained as a biochemist, and has worked in industry, military and academia. Simmons completed two years as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow and four years as a senior policy analyst in the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Directorate. There he focused on industry-university partnerships and the SBIR program. He is the current American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Palm Coast section Public Policy chair and for several years was Florida's team captain for the AIAA Congressional Visits Day. Simmons recent and national-level awards include the National Space Council Space Worker Hall of Fame, AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement Award,  Dwyer Award for Excellence in STEM education, National Coalition for Aviation and Space Education Crown Circle Award, National Engineering Week STEM Educator Award, and Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award. He has Biochemistry and Chemistry degrees from North Carolina State University and has completed masters level classes in Aerospace Science. 

star background to accent Shawna Christenson photo, our communications director
Shawna Christenson photo, our communications director

Shawna Christenson
Co-creator of AIA

Shawna L. Christenson is a graduate of the University of Central Florida (BS, Secondary English Education) and Florida Atlantic University (MS, Curriculum & Instruction). She is a Florida certified English teacher (grades 6-12) and holds endorsements in Gifted, Reading, and ESOL. Ms. Christenson has been teaching for twenty-three years in Palm Beach and Martin Counties with a focus on English, Public Speaking, and Debate.  She is a Space Foundation Teacher Liaison, the K-12 STEM education liaison for the Palm Beach section of The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,  an officer in the Palm Beach Middle School Forensic League, and is a nationally recognized Diamond Debate coach, earning the distinction of Middle School Coach of the Year in 2020.

 

Ms. Christenson believes in helping students become confident communicators who can share their passions outside the classroom through participating in legislative blitzes, writing technical papers, presenting at conferences, and working closely with legislators not only to talk about policy but to create it. With the help of her students, Ms. Christenson worked with State Representative Brian Mast on two resolutions to increase awareness of the CubeSat Launch Initiative and CubeSats in education.  In addition to presenting at the Florida Association for the Gifted twice, she has presented technical papers on science identity formation in elementary students at the International Astronautical Congress in Dubai last year (virtual), the CoSpar K conference in Australia, and is presenting in the International Astronautical Federation in Russia virtually in June. She regularly works with students on their technical papers and PowerPoint presentations to make sure they are prepared. She is the "talkie" side of the "techies and talkies" that will be offered as part of the Aerospace and Innovation Academy.

"Many born in the sixties and seventies daydreamed of becoming astronauts, ballerinas, soldiers, or actresses. The imagination and creativity of a child encourages curiosity and excitement – all potent fuels for learning. As adults, thrilling highs and crushing lows occur less and less frequently. The euphoria so easily experienced as children is replaced by the minor blips and dips of the daily grind. So when an educator is afforded the opportunity to bring a vision to reality, one must wholeheartedly accept the challenge."

-Kevin L. Simmons, Principal Investigator for WeissSat-1

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