It took a few decades, but Axel Diaz now moonlights for NASA.
Diaz has always loved science and space exploration but his love of NASA goes back to a school project he made when he was nine years old. That assignment focused on the 10th anniversary of the first moon landing and helped him fell in love with the U.S.’s space program.
More than 30 years after he created that project on Apollo 11, Diaz became part of NASA. As a NASA Solar System ambassador, he shares the latest discoveries of NASA’s missions.
Diaz, who moved to Lancaster in 1998, has a career as a shift supervisor for International Paper. Outside of the plant, Diaz attends science events through the region, from an Apollo anniversary celebration at Eastern Lancaster County Library to a program about Saturn at the North Museum.
It has been 50 years since the first moon landing, but as a solar system ambassador Diaz sees that people are still interested in exploring the final frontier.
Hometown: Ponce, Puerto Rico
Family: Wife, Annie; son Timothy, 23, and daughter Eunice, 21.
Education: Currently pursuing a mechanical engineering degree at Harrisburg Area Community College. Earned a biomedical technology degree at Institute of Technology of Ponce.
The best part of my job is: Inspiring the kids to have a career in STEM and sharing my passion for NASA with the public.
The hardest part of my job is: Not knowing or not having the answer to some space or science-related questions but I’m always willing to investigate and come up with an answer later.
What is your favorite part of the solar system and why?
Planet Mars because I believe we can have humans living there and populate the planet in the future.
Why is it important to understand our solar system?
With knowledge come progress and the more we understand our solar system the more we will understand the formation of other planetary systems.
My dream vacation: Is anywhere with a nice beach and some culture to immerse myself in.
Three words that describe me: Ambitious, hardworking, honest
What is a cause you care about?
I care about climate change.
What is the best advice you received from your parents?
My mom taught me to be a man of value.
What was your childhood dream job?
To be an astronaut or at least to work for NASA as an engineer.
What will you always find in your refrigerator?
Eggs, orange juice, milk and coffee. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
What was your first job?
When I turned 15, I started working in an auto repair shop.
How do you like to unwind?
I love to read anything about space and science with a glass of red wine.