Ryan Turner Credit: NASA
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Mentor Highlight, Ryan Turner

October 4, 2016

This blog post was written prior to a reorganization of ESC’s projects and networks in support of the agency’s commercialization effort. Though accurate at the time of publication, it is no longer being updated and may contain broken links or outdated information. For more information about the reorganization, click here.

The cycle of Ryan Turner’s career has been built on a strong foundation of mentoring. Beginning at a young age, he was the mentee of many mentors that helped to shape, form, and push him to the individual he is today. Mentoring molds a multi-dimensional person aware of themselves, their role in the world, and others. Because he is so grateful for the positive mentorship experiences, he too chooses to give back.

As a high school Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program (SHARP), intern at Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), Ryan’s technical goals were to learn software development. He began an early age in Communications by building applications for WFF Range Control Center. The group of mentors who built him up also focused on processes, presentations, writing skills, and teamwork. 

He continued as a co-op in college with the same group at WFF. The group was innovative through their entrepreneurial mind sets, always understanding their customer needs to be on the forefront of their development. He was a part of a team.

Later as Ryan continued the lifeline of interns, as he became a mentor, he then discovered the value of interns on the team. As roles reversed, he became dependent upon interns to be the youthful spark of uninhibited innovation.  With the right selection, an ambitious intern can get fire started on any project.  He reflects of many instances of amazement when he’s given a group of interns a problem and they return with a schedule and requirements document. 

He’s built a continuous team of interns who work symbiotically to achieve many tasks. Once he had his process model in place, his interns can work independently to build their own sub products. He’s set a firm foundation for his intern team to allow them to put their best efforts towards a task. Each intern has a specific task that contributes to the whole.

Learning from entrepreneurial mentors allowed Ryan to see the perfect opportunity a couple of years ago. When he found out about a product for the Deep Space Network (DSN), DSN Now, he was instantly inspired to create one for the Near Earth Network (NEN). As his own venture, it would involve limited time and funding. Immediately, he resourced his intern experience as an opportunity to merge the two. Now, for two full summers and university semesters in between, Ryan has built a continuous pipeline of software engineers to not only create the product but extend its capabilities and reach.

Last, the core of Ryan’s work is the need to help our future generations get engaged, continue motivation, and build our future STEAM workforce.  With his grassroots approach to mentoring, his influence will grow as a role model to others. With this approach, our team at NASA will continue to lead a legacy of innovation for the world.

Read more about ESC’s Intern Program: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/students-team-up-with-nasa-to-push-space-communications-and-navigation-forward