Throughout the month of February, as part of the 688th Cyberspace Wing’s celebration of Black/African American History Month we will be highlighting the accomplishments and contributions of past service members and Wingman that are currently serving and trailblazing in our ranks.
Today, we recognize, U.S. Air Force Civilian, William Rice (38th CEIG/ES/ENII/ENON) who is triple-hatted as an Electronic/Systems Engineer for the 38th Engineering Squadron, Cyber System Integrator for the 26th Network Operations Squadron and a subject matter expert for the Engineering and Installation Section.
Rice, who joined the 38th Engineering Squadron on July 27, 2015, was selected to receive a Modern-Day Technology Leader award at the 2022 Black Engineer of the Year STEM Conference on behalf of Career Communications Group’s US Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine, the Council of Engineering Deans of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, host Lockheed Martin Corporation, and sponsors Actalent and Jacobs.
Modern-Day Technology Leaders are men and women who are demonstrating outstanding performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Rice will be recognized and awarded during the Technology Recognition Event this Friday, Feb. 18, 2022.
The 688th Cyberspace Wing is honored to have Rice as an inspiring role model and gifted part of our team.
Read this interview with Mr. Rice to celebrate his accomplishments and learn more about his perseverance and CLIMB to success:
Can you describe to us all of the roles you hold within the Wing?
My official position title is Electronic/Systems Engineer. I have three prominent roles here at our Squadron. First, I am the Team Lead for the ECHO Engineering Operations crew that offers remote & on-site engineering support for the air force networks, servers, and services. Second, I am the Cyber System Integrator (CSI) for the 26th NOS. In this role, I facilitate a close relationship with the 26th NOS and supply them with 38th engineering allied support, as needed. Third, I am a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the Engineering & Installation Section. Here, I provide expertise in commodities such as outside plant (fiber optic/copper cabling), Giant Voice, Voice over IP (VoIP), and Networking.
What is the significance of winning this award?
Winning this award signifies the recognition of my hard work and dedication from my colleagues, peers, and supervisors.
How has your career and perseverance guided you to this achievement?
After accepting the job at the 38th, I had developed a career plan for the first five years. The 38th offered an abundance of technical training & leadership courses, and I was going to seize the opportunity to attend as many as I possibly could. Supervision would ask me what skillsets would I like to learn, and often I would reply, “All of them!!!” I would receive some on-the-job training and soon be sent out independently. Shortly after a few jobs on that particular skill set, I would return to supervision and ask to learn another skillset, and the process would repeat. Over time, management knew I was always willing to try new things. Some things I might not have felt as comfortable as other things, but I focused on the positive rather than the negative. If supervision believed I could complete the task, I would not fail them. It is hard to become complacent with the projects presented to the crews. Technology and the adversary will constantly be changing, and therefore it is difficult to get bored in my eyes. I have exceeded my initial five-year plan and have developed a new plan for the next five years.
What does it mean to you to be recognized as an African American/Black engineer?
Being recognized as an engineer is an achievement in of itself. To be recognized as an African American engineer means that others can see my accomplishments and know that it is possible to overcome all stereotypes.
How can the U.S. Air Force recruit more diversity in the engineering and STEM fields?
The Air Force can recruit more diversity in the STEM fields by increasing its engagement and recruitment presence at HBCUs for internship and full-time opportunities. The talent is there; the AF has to reach these individuals early in their academic studies.
What professional advice would you provide to those who follow?
My professional advice is to find one or two mentors and receive as much advice from them as possible. Then, once you have moved up the ranks, always reach back and mentor others.
What personal advice would you provide to those who follow?
Personal advice for those who follow would always keep God first! Secondly, find a good support group. Everyone is not going to be in your corner. Third, success requires sacrifice. Lastly, always believe in yourself.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I enjoy several things about my job. First, I enjoy the work environment; the 38th Engineering Squadron is just one big family. The impact the 38th has on the AF; the group continues to do amazing things. Lastly, I enjoy traveling. I get to travel the world doing what I love to do. It is a win-win situation!!
What are your future plans and ambitions?
My future plans and ambitions would be to one day be Deputy Director or Director of the 38th. Also, continue to mentor future engineers here at the 38th, my alma mater (Jackson State University), and any individual that I might cross along this journey.