Featured alumnus: Raymond Espiritu '89

Raymond Esiritu, a 1989 graduate of Damien Memorial School who is currently a software developer at the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland, a not-for-profit, university-affiliated research center and defense contractor.

Bio: After graduating from Damien, Raymond  attended Yale University and received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and then a Master's at George Washington University in Aerospace Engineering through a program called Joint Institute for the Advancement of Flight Sciences (JIAFS), a partnership between George Washington University and NASA.

After college, Raymond's first job was to work on an air Force satellite. After that he worked on other satellite programs with various other companies, including Motorola where he helped develop their Iridium satellite constellation, and, at NASA in the advanced Component Technologies (ACT) program.

Raymond received an offer from Lockheed Martin to work in California, but during this time Raymond was dating the woman who was to become his wife, so he made the "right choice" and remained on the East Coast.

Recently, Raymond received a NASA Certificate of Appreciation for his work on Balloon Observation Platform for Planetary Sciences (BOPS), where he studied several comets and asteroids using a telescope suspended from a high altitude balloon.  Raymond is also an author of several published papers in the scientific community.

Raymond is a third degree black belt in the Japanese martial art of Naginata and used to compete in national tournaments.  Currently, he participates in jodo, an "old school" form of martial arts.

Raymond lives in Virginia with his wife and two daughters.

We caught up with Raymond recently and he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions:

Q: What extra-curricular activities did you participate in and what kind of academic recognition did you receive while at Damien?


A: “I was in the marching band, JROTC, JV cross-country, and the Strategy Society.  I was in the honors class and was ranked at #4 for GPA the whole time I was there.  It was pretty hard trying to crack the top three.”

Q: Who are some of your classmates at Damien?

A: “Most of the people I knew at Damien were in my honors class or in band.  I also knew folks who I had gone to elementary school with before going to Damien.  Among them were Jae Kwak, Aaron Mattis, Artin Toorinjian, Casey Asato, Nate Jones, Philipp Battalia, Eric Enrico, and Rudy Tulonghari.”

 Q: What is your most vivid memory or memories while at Damien?

A: “My most vivid memories were of early morning band practice.  We started at 7:00 a.m., so we had to be at Damien long before regular classes started.  That was one of my favorite classes, because it led to the band bonding together when we were on field trips and played in parades.”

Q: Damien’s football team has recently won the ILH Division II title; how was the football team back in 1989?

A: “When I was in high school I do not recall our football team being very good.  Since I was in the marching band we played at the football games and I recall our team being trounced most of the time.  In fact, I think our band was the highlight of most games.

Q: “For the football team now though? 

A: I just want to say ‘GO MONARCHS!’

Q: While at NASA, did you work on the Mars Exploration Program?

A: “Unfortunately, I did not work on any Mars missions.  I worked on MESSENGER, which was the NASA mission to Mercury.  That was a long mission.  I was on it from launch to the end of the mission over a period of ten years.  I was in charge of developing software that would unpack telemetry from all the spacecraft instruments and turn them into data files that scientists could use in their analysis.

“I currently work at the Applied Physics Lab, which does a lot of work with NASA and works on several NASA missions.  I am currently involved in software development to support an instrument on OSIRIS-Rex, which is a NASA mission launching in September 2016 and will visit the asteroid Bennu...” 

Q: Was there any teacher/counselor/staff member at Damien that would serve as a mentor, or is there any lesson or experience you had garnered from your Damien education that has helped you in your professional career?

A: “Not as mentors per se, but I do remember teachers who motivated me and inspired me to learn and excel..

...the one that stands out in my mind was a Christian Brother who volunteered to teach calculus during summer school after-hours to anyone who wanted to learn.  I was going to be taking calculus during the fall so I decided to take the class.  I was one of only two people, and the Christian Brother had so much faith that we could learn calculus.  He took the doubt I had in myself and somehow turned it into confidence that I could do it.  Senior year calculus ended being an easy A

(This) one Christian brother...his influence kept me up late at night during college and graduate school as I banged my head against the wall trying to solve some tough math and physics problems.”

Q: What do you think about Damien going co-educational?

A: “I think it is inevitable due to the economy.  But I also believe it is a chance for Damien to do better by its female students just like they do the male ones, and hold them to the same standards and inspire them the same way then I believe female alumni will graduate thinking they can do or be anything they want.  That should be an integral goal for a coed Damien.

Q: Was lunch really all that bad back in the day?

A: “I recall the fries being good.  That was probably it.

For more on Raymond Espiritu and his work on the MESSENGER space program, see:  http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/who_we_are/member_focus_070810.html