Each year, the Department of Defense honors the women who have shaped U.S. History and made contributions to pave the way forward. Two women leading the way at White Sands Missile Range are Raquel Astorga, a computer engineer, and Linn Linn Htway, a computer scientist, with the Test Technology Directorate at the White Sands Test Center.

WSMR Women leading the way

Each year, the Department of Defense honors the women who have shaped U.S. History and made contributions to pave the way forward. Two women leading the way at White Sands Missile Range are Raquel Astorga, a computer engineer, and Linn Linn Htway, a computer scientist, with the Test Technology Directorate at the White Sands Test Center.

Astorga is the government lead for the Integrated Directed Energy Architecture project currently going on at WSMR. The IDEA project makes DE an increasing priority for the Army and ATEC.

Astorga, who graduated from New Mexico State University with a B.A. in Electrical Engineering and a master’s in business administration, was recruited to work at SV at WSMR where she worked for 10 years.

After that she took a developmental assignment in Florida where she worked for the Program Executive Office as a project lead for different laser weapons systems and efforts at WSMR.

Once she completed the developmental assignment, she came back to WSMR and was assigned to TTD.

“I am very grateful. The team is wonderful,” Astorga said of getting to work with Fil Macias’ group.

She said the group works well as a team and they help each other out depending on everyone’s strengths.

Astorga, who has been with TTD for almost three years, said the Congressional earmark for the IDEA program was funded right after she joined the team, and she has been the government lead since 2021.

Astorga said her field is still very male dominated especially within the military.

As a young girl Astorga said she saw herself in her field in terms of taking on the responsibility and because she was always good with numbers.

“I’ve always been very curious, taking things apart and asking a lot of questions,” Astorga said.

As for the future of women at WSMR, Astorga said there will hopefully be a lot more women at WSMR.

She said that in taking on this responsibility she is letting other women and little girls know that they can do it too.

“It is helpful to see others where you want to be, because it gives you that motivation and inspiration.”

“I am grateful that a lot of people are receptive to the changes and hopefully this will make it easier for other people.”

Htway’s journey was very different in that she had to face many obstacles, but she was determined to work in a field that has been traditionally male dominated.

She worked hard to overcome the obstacles in her life and has made it this far through perseverance.

Htway, who is originally from Burma, is currently working on the installation of fiber modernization cable at Brillo Site.

Growing up Htway said she was expected to stay home and raise a family, but she chose to follow in her sister’s footsteps and got a degree in computer science.

After that she moved to Singapore where she worked for three years, before moving to the U.S. where she joined the Army Reserves.

She said her degree was not recognized in the U.S., so she had to start school from square one, to include having to take her GEDs.

“When I went back to school, I had to support myself, so I had to work while serving in the Army Reserves.”

She said her day started at 5 a.m. and didn’t end until 10 p.m.

It took her seven years to finish her degree in computer science as she moved around with the Army Reserves because each time she got activated, she had to drop out of school then start again when she returned.

She graduated in 2017 with a major in computer science and a minor in architecture from the University at Buffalo, New York.

A few years before she graduated Htway said she began applying for civil servant jobs.

After she graduated, she got a call back for a position at WSMR and was offered a job. She took a job with RO and worked there for four years before moving to TTD.

Htway said she served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 12 years and finished her service in May of last year.

Htway said she really enjoys working with Fil Macias’ group under TTD where she has been working for over two years and where she has grown professionally.

“I’ve learned so much since I came here. I love working with this group. They are like a family.”

She said everybody helps each other and they all work together as a team.

As a woman at WSMR, Htway said she didn’t feel welcome at first but moving to the TTD group has made a big difference.

She said Macias treats everyone the same and gives everyone the same opportunities.

“I really love working with this group.”

Miriam Rodriguez

WSMR Public Affairs