FEBRUARY 20, 2017
On Good Morning America, the actresses from the 2016 film Hidden Figures honored another hidden figure — trailblazing engineer Raye Montague.
When she was 7 and visited a captured Nazi mini-submarine in Little Rock, Arkansas, she saw the dials and was mesmerized. In 1956, she began working for the U.S. Navy as a clerk typist and quickly became more, learning engineering skills at work and computer programming at night school. She became the first female programmer of ships there and a computer systems analyst at the Naval Ship Engineering Center, creating the first computer generated rough draft of a Navy ship, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate.
She also served as program director at Naval Seas System Command and was honored with the Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 1972. During her career, she not only taught at the U.S. Naval Academy, she briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff each month. Many of her ship designs continue to be used.
In 2017, the Naval Surface Warfare Center honored her. “I didn’t realize that I was breaking glass ceilings back then,” she told those gathered. “I was just doing what had to be done.” She died in 2018 at the age of 83.