BS 1973 Electrical Engineering 

Photo of Donald R. Doerres, II

In his early career, Don used his electronics expertise to design and build special test equipment for complex communications systems, which needed test equipment that could not readily be commercially purchased. One particularly complicated system required 1200 pages of manual testing, so the idea occurred to Don to ascertain whether much of the test work could be automated.  This began Don’s career in writing software—at first for automating early testing computers.

Interested in space since he viewed the stars from his childhood Iowa home, Don found opportunities to work in the Space Program when he moved to Arizona, designing both test equipment and software. He now is a recognized leader in developing software for spacecraft, including boot up code, operating code, and methodologies for dynamic software updates on active spacecraft to extend mission life.

Don organized the flight software department at Spectrum Astro Company in Gilbert, Arizona (now part of Northrop Grumman). While there, he was responsible for the development of software for a series of successful spacecraft, including the MSTI series, Mighty Sat II.1, and Coriolis for the Air Force Research Institute. Don supervised the development of software for the GLAST, DS1, and HESSI missions for NASA.  He wrote all the flight software for the NASA Lunar Prospector mission. For several years, Don was responsible for the maintenance and updating of the command and data handling software for the commercial GeoEye-1 earth-imaging spacecraft. 

In his later career, Don worked at the Mars Spaceflight Research Facility at Arizona State University, contributing to the mission planning software for the NASA OSIRIS-REx Bennu asteroid sample and return mission. He worked with undergraduate students at ASU’s SpaceWorks Instrument Incubator Program, giving the students key “hands on” skills, including working with hand tools, work skills in a clean room / static free environment, and even elements of software development. Don also helped graduate students develop special test equipment for remotely testing rock and soil samples while they were in Mars simulation environment chambers.

Don works with his wife Denise in a program they developed called Soft Skills for a Hard World, teaching interpersonal communications skills and dispute resolution skills. Don is active in his Armadillo Writing Group, the ASU Retiree’s Association, and, with Denise, at St. Patrick Catholic Community, Girl Scouts- Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, and the Alumni Associations of the University of Iowa, University of Arizona, and Arizona State University. 

Inducted: April 2024