Still Doodling Ships

By Drew DeSpirito

I started doodling ships in my notebooks in elementary school when I was six, and kept it up all the way into high school.  Once I found out there was a tuition-free college a few towns over that offered naval architecture, I knew I had to attend.  I learned to be careful what I wished for.  If I stop and think about the multiple all-nighters and the endless barrage of assignments, papers, and projects, I shudder.  Then my mind moves past the initial horror and remembers all the fun we had while pulling those all-nighters.  Some of my classmates remain my closest friends, and we always reminisce about the laughing and fun—not the work!

I started as an Intern at NSWC Carderock, in their surface ship naval architecture department.  My obsession was with submarines, however, so I quickly tailored my intern rotations to focus accordingly.  In 2005 I was offered at job at NAVSEA headquarters, in the Advanced Undersea Systems Program Office.  I spent three years delivering, testing, and certifying the Submarine Rescue Diving and Recompression System for the Navy. 

From there, I was promoted to Project Engineer, and given my own in-service research and development system to operate and maintain.  I am now responsible for a $20 million annual budget, and for delivering a deployable asset to support national objectives.  It is a significant challenge, but the rewards are worth it.  Getting to work with some of the most talented people in the Navy is an honor, and I look forward to work every day.  If someone had told me at graduation that I’d have this kind of responsibility in less than ten years, I’d have laughed in their face!

Sometimes I wish I could just draw the submarines, though.  I still find myself doodling them on my notes when meetings get too long or boring.  That’s a problem—especially when it’s my meeting to run.