National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Ron Turba

Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA
B.S. Aerospace Engineering and Physics, May 2009

Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN
M.S. Mechanical Engineering, May 2011

2010 NASA Glenn Academy:
Operations and Logistics Manager

Hometown:
Nashville, TN

Email:
rturba@gmail.com

Philosophy

The following is an excerpt from the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (the act signed by former President Eisenhower which officially created NASA as a government agency):

The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

  • The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies and living organisms through space
  • The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology

NASA was founded in 1958 to “expand the space frontier”. Throughout the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and (for the most part) the Shuttle program, NASA has firmly stuck to its roots and tried to expand the frontier. Many scientists and engineers, including myself, start a career because of the discoveries made by NASA scientists, engineers, and astronauts. I try to shape my career on the same principles that NASA was founded in 1958: to do things that no one has done or thought of as well as going where no one has gone before.

Work Experience, Research, and Hobbies

My first experience in the aerospace industry was an internship during May 2007 at ATK in Dayton, OH. I got a first-hand look at how a private company conducts research. I was working in a radar group to create a more efficient R-card coating process for the radar cross-section on the B-2 bomber. During my second week at ATK, the Massachusetts Space Grant told me that I had been accepted into NASA Academy. However, the director of MSFC NASA Academy told me that all the slots had been filled. Luckily, one of the students dropped out 3 days prior to the start of the academy, so I happily stepped into that slot and moved to Huntsville, Alabama on the flip of a card.

During the remainder of summer 2007, I was a Research Associate for Dr Ed West on SUMI, which is a project to map the magnetic field of the sun. My particular job was controlling the detectors for one of the four cameras on the sounding rocket. I worked with LabView to get the detector ready for testing in the vacuum chamber. I returned to NASA Academy at MSFC as the Operations Manager in the summer of 2009.

I completed two design projects while at WPI. My summer 2008 was filled with biofuel research at WPI. I partnered with Dr Reeta Prusty Rao and one other student to conduct a study of biofuel production in Brazil which meets its gasoline demand through the production of ethanol from its sugarcane crop. This study included the chemistry and biology of ethanol production as well as the economics and politics. Finally, the study concluded with a proposal which the US could implement to eliminate some of its petroleum-based gasoline with ethanol made from switch grass or corn. My senior design project involved two fluid processes: flow focusing and electrospray. I worked with Dr John Blandino and two other students to combine these two processes in one apparatus. Our group built the proposed design and conducted some initial testing of the two processes.

Most of my hobbies have always included athletic activities. I was involved with athletics as early as three years old while playing on a basketball team as early as seven. I continued to be involved with athletics through college as I spent my final two years playing football for WPI. Outside of athletics, I am a certified scuba diver and attended Toastmasters public speaking meetings for three years of college.

Educational and Professional Objectives

My experience with the NASA Academy in 2007 made me realize that I want a future in the aerospace industry. I initially chose Aerospace Engineering for my undergraduate degree but soon understood that I could double major in Physics and graduate in four years. After working as the Operations Manager for NASA Academy at Marshall Space Flight Center in the summer of 2009, I realized that I enjoy the management aspect of research as much as the science. Therefore, I returned to NASA as the Operations Manager for Glenn Research Center.

My professional goals have always included joining the astronaut corps. However, I have discovered that, in recent years, politics plays more of a role in manned space flight than it should. Therefore, my career goal is the continuation the manned space flight program for America to places where no one else has gone before. For me, this can be achieved through joining the astronaut corps, being the NASA administrator, or the leader of a private corporation. To reach this career goal, my education will not stop with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt. I am uncertain whether my next degree is a PhD, an MBA, or another Masters.