PINE BLUFF, Ark. – Raye Jean Montague, internationally registered professional engineer, will be the keynote speaker for the Lyceum event at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Sponsored by the UAPB Lyceum Committee in partnership with the STEM Scholars Academy Guest Lecture Series, the free, public event will take place Thursday, April 2 at 11 a.m. in the STEM Building Conference Center.
Montague will give a presentation entitled, “Turning Obstacles into Challenging Situations” at the event to share her amazing life story as a young African-American girl growing up in Arkansas that dared to dream of one day becoming an engineer.
Montague’s career spans the development of computer technologies, from the UNIVAC I, the world’s first commercially available computer, down to modern computers. She successfully revised the first automated system for selecting and printing ship specifications and produced the first draft for the FFG-7 frigate (the Oliver Hazard Perry–class, or Perry-class, ship) in eighteen hours. This was the first ship designed by computer.
She attended Arkansas AM&N (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), wanting to study engineering, though because no Arkansas colleges were awarding such degrees to African-American women in the 1950s, she took a degree in business, graduating in 1956. After graduation, Montague began her career with the navy at the old David Taylor Model Basin (now the David Taylor Naval Ships Research and Development Center) in Carderock, Maryland, as a digital computer systems operator. She later advanced to the position of computer systems analyst at the Naval Ship Engineering Center and served as the program director for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Integrated Design, Manufacturing, and Maintenance Program as well as the division head for the Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) Program. On January 22, 1984, she accepted the newly created position of deputy program manager of the navy’s Information Systems Improvement Program.
Montague was awarded the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1972, the navy’s third-highest honorary award. She was the first female professional engineer to receive the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Achievement Award (1978) and the National Computer Graphics Association Award for the Advancement of Computer Graphics (1988). A 2013 inductee into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, she has also received a host of other honors from military branches, industry, and academia. The last project with which she was affiliated was the Seawolf-class submarine (SSN-21).
Montague retired in 1990. In 2006, after fifty years spent in the metropolitan Washington DC area, she returned to Arkansas, living in west Little Rock, where she remains active with LifeQuest, The Links Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Inc. and the American Contract Bridge League.
For more information about the event, call (870) 575-8415.