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NSWCPD First Hispanic Engineer Continues to Inspire Future Generations

By Keegan Rammel, NSWCPD Public Affairs | NSWCPD | Sept. 16, 2020

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD_ Wastewater In-Service Engineering branch head Ramon “Tony” Morales is preparing to retire from the Command after a 38-year career after breaking ground for Hispanic engineers and mentoring the next generation. Morales serves as the Command Adviser to NSWCPD’s Latin American Employee Resource Group (LAERG) and has been heavily involved in the Command’s recruitment and diversity efforts.

Morales was the first Hispanic engineer hired by NSWCPD’s predecessor Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station (NAVSSES) in 1982 and plans to retire in December.

“I am very grateful to this organization for giving me so many opportunities throughout my career,” Morales said. “I have had many wonderful mentors, friends, and colleagues. I wouldn’t change anything about the last 38 years.”

Morales has mentored those around him since he was a student University of Puerto Rico. He continues to visit elementary, middle and high schools with a high population of Hispanic students in Philadelphia, and Camden, N.J., as well as his hometown Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, promoting an education and career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Morales has worked closely with students in the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP), Naval Research Enterprise Intern Program (NREIP), Cooperative Education Program, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Program, and Pathways Program.

“It’s been really easy to recruit for NSWCPD because it is such a great organization. I’ve met really great people and incredibly talented engineers,” Morales said.

After he retires and the pandemic subsides, Morales plans to split his time between Florida and Puerto Rico to continue promoting STEM and coach baseball, which he has done since he was 24.

“I plan to keep promoting STEM in Puerto Rico and work with students to mentor them. I want to help build their resumes, get experience, and practice interviews, but the pandemic has put that on hold,” Morales said. “Working with young people keeps you young.”

Following the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, Morales spearheaded a co-op program for Puerto Rican students. NSWCPD hosted 10 co-op students who were left without electricity and internet in February 2018 and lead the way for other Warfare Centers to follow suit. The program provided the students with an opportunity to gain engineering work experience while their schools rebuilt and strengthened the connection between the Puerto Rican universities and the Navy.

Morales has lead a highly decorated career winning awards for his work as an engineer, supervisor, and for his efforts in diversity. Last year, Morales was awarded the 2019 Adele Mayo EEO/Diversity Leadership Award for Puerto Rico Cooperative Education Initiative, as well as 2019 STEM Hero Award from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference (HENAAC). He also won the 2018 Warfare Centers Alan J. Dean Talent Management Award, the 2008 Philadelphia Federal Executive Board Individual Supervisory Award, among many others.

Morales has made significant technical contributions during his career, including the successful implementation of the oil-pollution abatement (OPA) systems installed across the fleet. These systems were shaped by Morales and his team’s work. Morales is currently responsible for Oil Pollution Abatement, ship-to-shore compliance, and non-oily wastewater for the entire U.S. Navy surface fleet.

“I know that many people changed my life and that I have done the same for others; that has given great meaning to my life,” Morales said.

NSWCPD employs approximately 2,700 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel doing research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service logistics engineering for Navy ships. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.