Raytheon Missile & Defense
Iowa State University, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, 2005; M.E. in Systems Engineering, 2006
Colt Wallace is an Iowa Space Grant Consortium alum who has paved an incredible path for himself in the world of STEM. He started out at Iowa State University pursuing a B.S in Aerospace Engineering and eventually receiving his M.S. in Systems Engineering from the same institution. While at Iowa State University, Wallace applied for an award from the Iowa Space Grant Consortium (ISGC), which is a part of NASA’s National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program. He ended up receiving multiple awards from the ISGC and was given opportunities to be involved in the Spacecraft Systems and Operations Lab (SSOL) and High Altitude Balloon Experiments in Technology (HABET) programs as a student manager.
Wallace looks back on all of his time with the ISGC positively but the collection of memories that he loves the most are the multiple HABET balloon launches and recoveries he participated in. Another extremely rewarding memory for him was having the opportunity to encourage the students on his teams to work hard and reach their professional and academic goals.
During his experiences with the ISGC, Wallace gained two skills that have been very valuable to his career in STEM. First, the ability to communicate across engineering and program management domains. He emphasized the great importance of this skill when asked to offer a piece of advice to students in STEM:
“In my 14 years of working after graduation, I have come to realize that technical skills are usually not the most important skill to have in the workforce to help advance your career. You can have the best technical skills in the company you work for, but if you cannot successfully communicate those ideas, there will likely be real challenges in advancing your career. The skills required to communicate complex ideas and problems to diverse audiences are just as important as your technical STEM skills – don’t neglect them.”
Secondly, Wallace developed a valuable set of sub-system engineering skills related to the integration of multiple sets of technology into a single system to accomplish challenging goals. These skills proved to be valuable considering the impressive career path Wallace has followed since graduating. Rockwell Collins, now a division of Raytheon Technologies, hired Wallace as a GPS Systems Engineer in 2006. After 3 years there he became a Project Engineer leading engineering teams to execute major contracts. In 2012, Wallace accepted a position at Raytheon Missile Systems, now Raytheon Missile & Defense, a division of Raytheon Technologies, located in Tucson, Arizona, as a Systems Engineer working on GPS and Navigation Sub-Systems. After four years at Raytheon Missile & Defense, he became a manager and subject matter expert in the field of GPS technology. Wallace is currently a Senior Principal Systems Engineer & Section Head of the GPS & Navigation Sub-Systems. His job’s primary focus is on developing and integrating emerging GPS technology into systems that support the U.S. warfighter.
Wallace describes the GPS & navigation engineering field as one that is continually growing to meet the needs of various customers. His career goals are aligned with continuing to design and build the latest cutting-edge GPS technology to support the needs of the U.S. warfighter and country.
The success Wallace has experienced is greatly due to his passion for STEM. He loves that the field constantly offers new things to learn and new ways to use his knowledge to push the very limits of technology.
When looking back on ISGC’s impact of his career, Wallace had this to say:
“[The ISGC] was very beneficial to my education and STEM career. My involvement provided me with real-world challenges and experiences that were simply not provided in the classrooms when I attended Iowa State University. The knowledge and experience I gained while working with the ISGC has been the largest contributor to the knowledge I have used on my entire career path after graduating from ISU.”
The ISGC is extremely proud to have been a part of Wallace’s story and we are excited to see what he does next.