Raye Montague

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Raye Montague
Raye Montague in 2017.jpg
Raye Jean Jordan

(1935-01-21)January 21, 1935
Little Rock, Arkansas, US
DiedOctober 10, 2018(2018-10-10) (aged 83)
Little Rock, Arkansas, US
OccupationNaval engineer

Raye Jean Montague (née Jordan; January 21, 1935 – October 10, 2018)[1] was an American naval engineer credited with creating the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. She was the first female program manager of ships in the United States Navy.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Raye Jordan was born on January 21, 1935, to Rayford Jordan and Flossie Graves Jordan in Little Rock, Arkansas.[3] She was inspired to pursue engineering after seeing a German submarine that had been captured by the Americans and put on tour across the country.[4]

She graduated from Merrill High School in 1952. For college, she attended Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College (now University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) and graduated in 1956 with a bachelor of science degree in business. At the time, the engineering program at the University of Arkansas did not admit African-American students.[5]


photograph of Raye Montague working at her desk
Raye Montague wrote a computer program that revolutionized US Naval ship design

Montague joined the United States Navy in 1956 in Washington, D.C., as a clerk typist. At work, she sat next to a 1950s UNIVAC I computer, watching the engineers operate it until one day, when all the engineers were sick, she jumped in to run the machine.[4] She took computer programming at night school while continuing to work and learn the job.[5] She was appointed as a computer systems analyst at the Naval Ship Engineering Center, and later served as the program director for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Integrated Design, Manufacturing, and Maintenance Program, the division head for the Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) Program, and deputy program manager of the Navy's Information Systems Improvement Program.[3]

photograph of Raye Montague with two female sailors
Raye Montague with sailors from Aegis Training and Readiness Center

In 1971, her department was allotted one month to create a computer-generated ship design. By modifying existing automated systems, Montague produced the initial draft for the Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate in about 19 hours.[3] With this accomplishment, she became the first person to design a ship using a computer system.[5] She later worked on ships such as the Seawolf-class submarine and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower. Montague retired in 1990.[3]

Montague died of congestive heart failure on October 10, 2018, at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock.[6][7]



  1. ^ Terrell, Donna (October 10, 2018). "Arkansas' "Hidden Figure" Raye Montague Passes Away". KLRT-TV. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Finley, Taryn (February 21, 2017). "Janelle Monáe Honors 'Hidden Figure' And Naval Engineer Raye Montague". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Adams, Betty Sorensen (February 21, 2017). "Raye Jean Jordan Montague (1935–)". Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Engineer Raye Montague: The Navy's 'Hidden Figure'". blackdoctor.org. February 2, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Meet the woman who broke barriers as a hidden figure at the US Navy". ABC News. February 21, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Raye Montague, Arkansan and 'hidden figure' credited with U.S. Navy breakthrough, dies at 83". Arkansas Online. October 10, 2018. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (October 18, 2018). "Raye Montague, the Navy's 'Hidden Figure' Ship Designer, Dies at 83". New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2018.