For this week of Yuri’s Night, we’re bringing you a YNterview from the very top! Dr. Ryan Kobrick is the Executive Director of the Yuri’s Night Global Team.
Dr. Ryan Kobrick at Yuri’s Night Boulder 2010 (Credit: Amnon Govrin)
YN: So, what does the Executive Director do with regards to Yuri’s Night as a whole?
RK: The main role of the Executive Director is to make sure the Global Executive Team is a well-oiled machine and to keep an eye out for new opportunities. The biggest challenge is to keep the team inspired and to optimize everyone’s skillsets, which can be difficult in an all-volunteer effort. Luckily, the talented people who work on the Global Executive Team are highly motivated and contribute to putting on the most connected space party in the universe!
YN: How did you get involved in Yuri’s Night?
RK: For my masters’ at the International Space University, I conducted my internship with Peter Diamandis and the X PRIZE Foundation in Santa Monica, California. In the first week of work, Peter took us to a deli to meet up with other space enthusiasts including Loretta Hidalgo and George Whitesides (now married), the co-inventors of Yuri’s Night. They recruited me to work on Yuri’s Night LA 2003, where I took photos of families at the JPL’s Family Day, photoshopping them into spacesuits, and helped with the evening celebration at Encounter Restaurant at LAX.
Since then, I’ve run the events at State College, PA (2004, 2005) and Boulder, CO (2006-2010; I started contributing to the Global Executive Team around 2008. For 2012, I’ve also been helping the International Space University prepare for their 25th Anniversary celebration, which also falls on April 12th and is a Yuri’s Night celebration too.
YN: Where do you want to see Yuri’s Night go from here?
RK: I would love to see Yuri’s Night be able to hire 3-5 employees. Since the current executive works on volunteer time at varying hours of the night, it would be more efficient if a core team were able to take care of the day-to-day activities that would form the backbone of the company. Although I would love to continually break records every year, it is important that we help Yuri’s Night events obtain sustainability and repeatability, and we want to make a positive impact on society. Quality over quantity.
YN: What do you do when you’re not working on Yuri’s Night?
RK: Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working with Professors Dava Newman and Jeffrey Hoffman in the Man-Vehicle Laboratory. My research projects have varied and my current work includes an evaluation of inertial measurement unit (IMU) applications for commercial spaceflight and a future mission concept of an asteroid or planetary body hopper (working with JPL on a NIAC Phase 1). In my spare time I love to play hockey, sail, globetrot and take photos.
YN: Anything else you’d like to say to the Yuri’s Night community as a whole?
RK: Yuri’s Night is important because it brings us all together with a common passion for space. It gives us a singular day to reflect on where we are each year and where we would like to go next. We were born to explore and with Yuri’s Night we can connect the planet one event at a time. Rock the Planet!
You can read more of Dr. Kobrick’s thoughts about Yuri’s Night 2012 at http://ryinspace.blogspot.com/2012/04/its-time-to-rock-planet-and-make-impact.html. Ryan Kobrick will be attending Yuri’s Night Strasbourg at the International Space University this Thursday, April 12.