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Tinkering Her Way to the Top: A Boeing Engineer Sees Her Career Soar

Curious to see how the family VCR worked, eight-year-old Tyria Riley took it apart, saw what she needed to see, and adroitly reassembled its many parts. When all was said and done it worked just fine. So no one was too surprised that by junior high she was ready to make her career plans known. Riley would become an electrical engineer.

Riley grew up in Illinois, in East Saint Louis, and selected the University of Southern Illinois at Edwardsville to pursue her degree in electrical engineering. This course of study is extremely difficult, but with the help of her family, she was encouraged to push on, and graduated in 2002, looking forward to what lay ahead.

Today, she is an electrical engineer in the St. Louis facilities of the largest technology company in the world— The Boeing Company. Her primary responsibility is to design and test wiring systems that are being altered or upgraded in sophisticated FA/18 fighter aircraft. She is the only engineer within her group of information technology experts who still maintains a computer-aided electrical wiring design system. So once again, she finds herself taking things apart and putting them back together.

Boeing employs more than 153,000 people in more than sixty-seven countries, representing one of the most diverse, talented and innovative workforces anywhere. More than 83,800 of their employees hold degrees—including 28,900 advanced degrees—in virtually every business and technical field from more than 2,800 colleges and universities worldwide. Riley is thrilled to be part of this global team. “The company is huge, so there are so many opportunities,” she says. “I love the diversity, and the fact that management is so supportive of my professional development.”

Constantly eager for knowledge, Riley has taken full advantage of the Boeing Learning Together Program. It pays tuition and books for any employee’s further education in any field. By December, she’ll have a master’s degree in systems engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla. Once she completes that, she plans to go for her doctorate in systems science and mathematics at Washington University in St. Louis. Riley is also active in the National Society of Black Engineers, and serves as the organization’s regional Alumni Extension chair.

Because of her amazing attitude and drive, Riley was recently promoted, and she is looking forward to all the opportunities that The Boeing Company will continue to offer her.