The Wayback Machine -

Mr.Santos with 2014 US FIRST Judges Award

About Mr. Santos


OK, so he looks like Carl Fredricksen from "Up".


He is bossy, picky, he always wants you to try harder and he is grumpy, but he never gives up on you and he will do what he can to assure you are sucessful. He will bring out your best, even if you don't like it.  


We have our nicknames for, him, Grumpy, The Old Man, (and a few we use when he gets into deadline mode..)

He believes everything is done better in teams.

He never quits. He is quick to forgive and quicker to forget. 

He never looks at you for who you are, but what he sees you can be.

He will always tell you how proud he is of you.

He believes, with the help of mentors, teachers and partners, anything is possible.

Short Bio:


John Santos has worked in South Central Los Angeles for over 20 years, teaching STEM-focused classes.  He founded and co-founded several programs such as the Inner-City Graphic Communications Academy, the Imaging Sciences and Technology Academy, the 2+4+C Program, Viva Technology and Failure is Not an Option. He started, “Failure is not an Option,” which helps 1st through 4th graders experience what it is to be an engineer. 


John assists 8 local and 6 international robotics programs. In 2012 his students finished 8th in the world in an international space robotics competition designed by MIT, NASA and DARPA, to develop an algorithm for an autonomous robot to identify, and connect to a satellite in space. His students topped some of the leading engineering and robotics universities in the world, including all schools in California.


He serves as an advisor to several government entities and academic programs. He is our school's Math, Engineering, Science and Achievement (MESA) advisor.  His program has been recognized as the "Most Active Technology Program" in Southern California. 

In 2008, the White House recognized his program as the most innovative high school STEM program in the nation of the previous 8 years. Students, who matriculate from his programs to four-year institutions, have a 72% college graduation rate over the past 14 years.


Santos has received numerous awards and recognitions, including, the “Outstanding Teachers of America”, by the Carlston Family Foundation; The MAEStro Award, HENAAC Award, as well as by the Paul Allen Foundation, recognition as one of the “12 Most Innovative Engineering and Entrepreneurship Educators of the Pacific Rim.” He was recently recognized by the National Society of Hispanic MBA's with the 2014, "Community Service Award" and this spring received from USC the "Friends of TRIO Award".

Mr.Santos was recently recognized for his efforts with the 2016 "Medilla de Oro" (Gold Medal) for his work in STEM Education. 

More about Mr. Santos on the web:


Watch Mr. Santos Teach


Zerorobotics - 8th in the World


Program of the Year


Chilean Robot Named after Teacher - John Santos (Spanish)


ASEE Article

John Santos  recognized for the most Innovative STEM High School Program in the previous 8 years 2001-2008  (page 27)


NBC Latino


John Santos established the Imaging Sciences and Technology Academy (ISTA)


Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards -2006


Navy Involvement


Why Santos had to leave his old school



1997 - NASA-JPL - Innovation in Education Award

1997 - U.S. Army  - Innovative Technologies Award

1998 - Candidate - Disney American Teacher Award

1999 - PIASC Academic Technical Decathlon Champions

2001 - PIASC "Educator of the Year"

2001 - PIASC Academic Technical Decathlon Champions

2006 - National Engineering Design Competition - 3rd in State
2006 - City of L.A., "Exemplary Educator Award"
2006 - Assoc. of Mexican American Educators - Apple Award

2006 - California Department of Education - Julia Award

2006 - HENAAC - Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards

            Educator of the Year

2007 - National Engineering Exam Champions - TEAMS - Varsity
2007 - EDSF; International Educator of the Year

2007 - Graphic Arts Technical Foundation; Educator of the Year
2008 - Printing Industries of America; Educator of the Year

2008 - National Engineering Exam Champions - TEAMS - Varsity

2008 - ISTA Academy named “Most Innovative STEM program of the                    previous 8 Years” by White House

2009 - International Graphic Arts Educator's Association; Educator of

              the Year
2009 - So. California, Math Engineering & Science Adviser of the Year
2010 - USMC, Commandant's, Exemplary Educator Citation
2010 - California State Math, Engineering & Science Adviser of the 

2010 - L.A. Council of Engineers & Scientists; Educator of the Year

2010 - National Engineering Exam Champions - TEAMS - JV

2011 - National Engineering Exam Champions - TEAMS - JV

2011 - FIRST - FTC Finalist - Las Vegas International Championship


2012 - National Engineering Exam Champions - TEAMS - Varsity

2012 - ZERO-Robotics (NASA-DARPA-MIT) - 8th in the World - 

             International University Bracket

             (Top team among schools and unversities in California)

2012 - Carlston Family Foundation - "Outstanding Teachers of America"
2013 - MAES- MAEStro Bravo Award - Educator of the Year

2014 - US FIRST - Judges Award - Los Angeles Regional
2014 - Paul G. Allen Distinguished Educator Candidate- top 10       

             Entrepreneurial/Engineering Educators of the Pacific Rim

2014 - National Society of Hispanic MBA's- Community Service

            Award - 9/27/14

2015 - University of Southern California, TRIO Award - 5/2015

2016- "Medalla de Oro" - Society of Latino Engineers and Scientists

2017 - US FIRST - Judges Award - Los Angeles Regional