New Director of NASA Langley Research Center Discovered his "Passion" at RIT
Clayton Turner, RIT '90 is the new Director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He was named to the position in September after serving four years as deputy director. His focus? Space exploration.
Turner graduated from RIT with a degree in Electrical Engineering and says that's where he "found his passion."
He was hired at NASA Langley not long after graduation and one of his very first projects ended up on board the Space Shuttle Discovery. It's called the Lindar In-Space Technology Experiment (LITE). It was the first sensor of its kind to fly in space, monitoring the Earth's cloud cover.
Turner recently returned to the RIT campus in October to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
But he first took some time to do something else he is passionate about.
Turner is a big supporter of STEM education. He made a special stop at Rochester Prep High School which has a long standing educational connection with RIT. During his visit, students asked Turner a lot of questions on topics like extraterrestrials, black holes and NASA's commitment to sustainability. Turner told them the work NASA does is extremely important and it should "always be done for the betterment of humanity."
Turner shared how his years at RIT helped prepare him for the work he now does with a variety of researchers, scientists and engineers.
He says his experience at RIT taught him how to work in teams and to value the work of others regardless of their professional or academic backgrounds. Turner says NASA Langley's strength, its ”secret sauce" is the diversity of it's people and by this he means their diversity of talents and problem solving as well as their demographic diversity.
It's no secret Turner is a big fan of RIT. He told the students at Rochester Prep how lucky they are to have such a close association with the university. His advice to them? "Find your passion."