Let me just clag in his whole description: John Burnham believes that the search for new resources has driven exploration, expansion, and innovation—from the discovery of the Americas to the California Gold Rush. Likewise, he believes the key to colonizing space is to make it possible to extract valuable minerals from asteroids, comets, and other planetary bodies. John plans on using his fellowship to develop space industry technologies to solve the problem of extraterrestrial resource extraction.
Really, what can you do to advance space industry technologies under these circumstances? You're a teenager. You have a hundred thousand dollars (aka what Elon Musk spends every four seconds). You know far less about space technology than 99% of the people who work in the industry. And you're very smart, but a lot of people in the rocket industry are very smart. What do you do? Go intern for Elon Musk?
That said, lack of power in aforementioned bureaucracy could be a major issue.