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The Central American Group: Hello and welcome to another installation in a series of podcasts by the Central American group. In these discussions. We talk with individuals that have expertise in various aspects of doing business in Central America. Today, we are speaking with and welcoming to the podcast Luis Martinez. Luis is the head of the El Salvador Aerospace Institute. Luis, I’d like to ask if you can introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your organization.
Luis Martinez: Hello, Steve, I appreciate your having invited me to talk with you today. Well, actually, I’m Luis from El Salvador. I am currently serving as president of the El Salvador Aerospace Institute. Basically, in terms of education and experience, my background and professional career have developed in South Korea for over a recent period of 15 years. When I was living overseas, I realized the importance of technology then decided to work in an area related to aerospace.
The Central American Group: Can you expand a little bit on that? In other words, what was the reason for promoting aerospace in El Salvador through the El Salvador Aerospace Institute?
Luis Martinez: Prior to recent times, El Salvador had never before explored this kind of technology. The year 2016 was the first time our organization had the opportunity to introduce some of the previous work that it had done. The work was done in Guadalajara, Mexico. Since we have companies like Aeroman operating in El Salvador, we thought it would be logical to work to expand on this business.
The Central American Group: One of the things that are consistent in aerospace sectors across countries that have specific sector experience is that it’s important to build a workforce that is capable of manufacturing for the industry. Compiling all of the skills required to successfully start and continue an aerospace industry in a country is a must. Can you tell how you’re working to develop young minds to help them to get an aerospace education?
Luis Martinez: That’s a very interesting question. Let me tell you that at the El Salvador Aerospace Institute, we have some team members that are trained in certain aspects of the sector. Some of them received their education, for instance, in the United States and Korea, while others were educated in Europe. They work continuously to motivate activity both in the public and private sectors. For instance, in the case of government, our organization promotes the opportunity to open aerospace technology facilities and also promotes educational opportunities related to the industry
The El Salvador Aerospace Institute also partners with some local universities in our country. Of course, we continuously try to promote and find opportunities for cooperation in training programs. We also engage in some knowledge exchange with different regions and countries. In that way, although we know that it will take time, we can build an aerospace labor force.
The Central American Group: Could you tell us about the business model of the El Salvador Aerospace Institute? How do you work to achieve these things?
Luis Martinez: Yes, we depend upon the participation of the government and the private sector to invest in our business. I mean, by making a combination of that model, we are most likely to obtain benefits and results. Basically, the El Salvador Aerospace Institute is open to cooperation with educational institutions, government, and the private sector, to work together for the development of the industry. Lastly, of course, we cannot forget the public at large because it plays an important role in all of the aspects of our activities.
The Central American Group: One of the things that I read about your organization in the material that you provided me with before the podcast is that the El Salvador Space Institute is interested in R&D that has to do with things like satellites, robotics, A.I., artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and other aerospace technologies. Do you have the resources internally to pursue these different areas of development or will outsourcing somehow be involved?
Luis Martinez: That’s a very interesting question, to be honest. R&D, you know, as a developing economy or developing country, our budget for education or R&D, in this case, is very limited. That is why our organization has entered into partnerships with local universities and the international. We are working with international governments and organizations to support and run projects that are both short and long-term.
The Central American Group: To this point, I would imagine the El Salvador Aerospace Institute is a young organization. In consideration of this, can you tell me some of the notable things that you have achieved?
Luis Martinez: Yes, we have several. Let me explain that. One of our obvious successes as of late is the ability to survive in the midst of the current Covid crisis. Everything in terms of programs is still in place even though we are the first organization involved in aerospace activities in El Salvador. We continue to build our competitiveness through our association with the universities and training programs that partner with our initiatives. The El Salvador Aerospace Institute has also received international recognition from all many governments in support of our effort to introduce space technology in El Salvador. One of the main programs of our organization is related to the development of satellite technology. We are working to develop the country’s first nanosatellite in the country with the full support of the El Salvador Aerospace Institute.
We have received recognition from international bodies. These include the governments of Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Romania, and some other countries for their participation and also the international cooperation for the programs that we are developing.
The Central American Group: You know, I know this may be a little bit difficult to answer, but I would like you to try to answer this if you can. What would you like to see regarding the aerospace industry in El Salvador? What do you think it’s going to look like in the next five to 10 years?
Luis Martinez: Yes. Actually, our first goal is to motivate the younger generation to explore education that is based on technology. We also seek to be one of the top organizations leading the way in the aerospace sector. You know, let’s say, not only regarding national projects but also with respect to regional and international programs. We would like to tackle challenges like, you know, food security in Central America, climate change, and, of course, national security. By 2030, the El Salvador Aerospace Institute looks to develop a strong program for national aerospace and also lead the industry in international terms.
Already we have made great progress as a nation. As you know, one of the main industries at this moment in the case of El Salvador is the idea that we have some of the most important aviation MRO companies from Canada and the US that have invested in the country.
The Central American Group: Well, I think you’ve given us a good overview of what your organization is doing in El Salvador to promote the development of the aerospace industry. With these podcasts, always there are folks that contact us to ask to send questions to our speakers. I’m wondering if you could tell us how people who may have further questions can reach you.
The Central American Group: OK, well, I want to thank you for joining us today and want to wish you a great amount of luck in the future years developing the El Salvador Aerospace Institute.
Luis Martinez: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to your audience today.
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