Meet Our Team
DeBates has been in formal and informal education for over 35 years. He has led some of the most dynamic education teams, created some of the most unique education labs in the world and his programs have impacted over 1 million students globally.
DeBates, currently is the Chief Operations Officer at AssiST’EM. He oversees the day-to-day operations of AssiST’EM which uses STEM to support high school students in university preparations, academic counseling, test preparation, essay writing support, video interview preparation, college admissions counseling, internship resources, special STEM programs and career counseling.
He spent 14 years at the Space Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colorado as Vice President-Education, Director-Education and as a curriculum writer. Prior to that, he taught in public schools in San Antonio, Texas and in Ipswich South Dakota.
During his time at the Space Foundation, DeBates created unique education labs at the Space Foundation Discovery Center, and in-person and virtual global education programs for PreK-12 students to expose them to STEM careers. Some of these labs and programs include the Mars Robotics Laboratory, Science On a Sphere, the AGI Space Missions Simulation Lab and the Battelle Underwater Drone Lab. He created many programs during his tenure, such as the Junior Space Entrepreneur Program which won a 2020 Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award, the Space Across the Curriculum teacher professional development program, Space Foundation University and the Space in the Community program. Many of DeBates’ programs focused on space-inspired education to engage and excite students to become lifelong learners in STEM and follow a path to STEM careers.
DeBates has been honored for his contributions and achievements in education by receiving some of the highest state, national and international honors in education. Some of these include:
- 2020 Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award
- 2018 Milicent Atkins College of Education Distinguished Alumnus Award from Northern State University
- 2016 Air Force Association Colorado Medal of Merit
- 2014 Frank J. Malina Astronautics Medal
- 2006 Christa McAuliffe Memorial Award
- 2005 and 2006 Air Force Association-Alamo Chapter Teacher of the Year Award
- 2004 Texas A&M Educators Shape the Future Award
- 2003 Cited in United States Congressional Record for Contributions to Education
- 2003 Time Warner Cable’s National Crystal Apple Award Winner