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Keynote Speaker, Spring 2004 Event

Rhonda Hayes

Webmaster/System Administrator for
Proprietary Programs
Software Engineering Center, Engineering Automation & Computing
Raytheon Space & Airborne Systems
El Segundo, California

Bachelors of Science, Computer Engineering
With a Minor in Applied Mathematics
California State University, Long Beach

Current Role
Raytheon is an industry leader in defense and government electronics.  Space and Airborne Systems provides technology solutions to enhance success in critical space and airborne missions such as the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) and the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  As Webmaster and System Administrator for Proprietary Programs I am responsible for the systems infrastructure, operations, and performance of assigned servers, as well as the development of complex functionality such as databases, input forms, and interaction with other network resources, in addition to access controls, domain, and security requirements.  I am constantly researching and evaluating new technologies that will enhance or improve communication within my environment.

Career Overview
As a young girl I was always building or inventing something.  My passion for building and designing structures grew into a career in architecture.  After 25 years of extensive experience in architectural contract documentation and construction management, the economy took a turn for the worst and I found myself unemployed.  My last architectural assignment was as Project Coordinator for the much publicized Los Angeles County Main Jail facility.

My professional experience was highly diversified and included large scale Type I commercial projects, correctional facilities, retail projects and educational facilities but instead of jumping right back into the work force, I decided to take a few classes to hone my computer skills.  Following an unpleasant business experience I concluded that it was time for a change.  A suggestion to consider a career in engineering from a physics professor led to my enrollment at CSULB where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in Applied Mathematics.


  • Never stop learning.
    One thing has been a constant throughout my career as an architect  and engineer -- you never stop learning.  Technology is constantly changing, evolving, and improving so you must be willing to change, evolve, and improve.

  • Know your resources.  
     No one knows everything.  The minute you meet someone who tries to give that impression then please know that person is pulling your leg.  As you grow older, you will realize the old saying is true, “the more you know, the less you know.”  What is important?  Knowing where to find the answer.  In other words, know your resources!

  • Develop your people skills.  
    Learn to work with people of different cultures and backgrounds.  As a Project Manager, I managed teams of architects and most of the time I was the only woman on the team.  The challenge is to maintain a positive working environment where everyone feels he or she is being treated with dignity and respect.  That should be as easy as it sounds but unfortunately it does not always work that way.  Even in this day and age, women are often assigned meaningless tasks on a project team.

    My first internship was with DirecTV in their Software Engineering Department.  A 10 week summer internship turned into a year long assignment.  I later asked the Director why he chose me over all the other candidates.  His answer was my people skills.  He said he could tell right away that I would have no problem fitting in with his team.  He went on to explain that I was a college senior which implied I was trainable however, college can not teach you how to get along with other people.

    I asked the same question of my hiring manager at Raytheon.  Although she had other reasons for hiring me, she found my people skills and history of volunteer work very impressive.

  • Develop your communication skills - Read!  Read!  Read! 
    Read any and everything you can get your hands on.  Why?  It will help develop or improve your communication skills.  How?  As you read over time you will begin to notice the writing styles of various authors and eventually develop your own.

  • Choose your target and aim well.  
    That’s pretty straight forward.  You will never hit your target unless you aim at it.  You won’t always hit a bull's-eye but if you set your goals and aim, you will hit the target!

  • Be persistent.  
    There is a saying, “Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence...” and I firmly believe in that.  Sometimes you try your best but it just does not turn out the way you planned.  The secret is to try again and if that does not work, try once more – be persistent.

  • Practice good organizational skills.  
    Good organizational skills were the key to my career as an architect and they serve me well as an engineer.  The bottom line, good organizational skills save time and money.  At Raytheon, we call it Six Sigma.  When I was a junior architect we called it quality assurance.

Professionally, my interests these days involve collaborative tools – tools that allow file sharing from any location or real-time communication.  Dynamic web applications are another area of interest.  Yes, I’m a techie so anything that has to do with computers or technology ultimately catches my eye.  Ever wonder how that on-line shopping cart works?

Over the years I have been involved with several organizations some of which are:

  1. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA)

  2. Association of Computer Machinery (ACM)

  3. American Institute of Architects (AIA)

  4. MESA Engineering Advisory and Development Council (MEDAC)

  5. National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)

  6.  National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)

  7. Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

  8. Women in Construction (WIC)

I am also affiliated with several Raytheon employee networks:

·         El Segundo Diversity Council (ESDC)
El Segundo Women’s Network (ESWN)
Raytheon Black Employees Network (RAYBEN)
Raytheon Young Engineers and Scientists Network (YESNet)

On a personal note, I consider spending time with my family a blessing and it is my greatest joy.  During my free time I enjoy walks along the beach as well as white water rafting, rolling skating and snow skiing with my 23 year old daughter who is also a CSULB graduate.  My parents are my biggest fans and often accompany me on many outings.