BEYA 2022 Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award

  • Published
  • By Gunnar Burgin
  • 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing Public Affairs

In October 2021, Maj. Roashelle “Thorn” Rose, of the 453rd Electronic Warfare Squadron (EWS), received notice that she had been named the Black Engineer of the Year, for the 2022 Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award. 

The Science Spectrum Trailblazer Award is a part of the BEYA Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) outstanding Achievement Award Category that recognizes individuals who actively shape the future of engineering, science, and technology. A panel of leaders from industry, government, and academia review the nominations and recommendations for this award.

The Black Engineer of the Year Awards was founded in 1986 as a platform to recognize the success and achievements of underrepresented people in the fields of STEM. In the past 40+ years, the platform has exposed over 100,000 American students to role models in STEM careers. These awards culminate each year in the BEYA Conference, with the ultimate goal of bringing students, educators, and professionals together to allow for new partnerships and connections to various STEM opportunities and resources.

When speaking about being the latest recipient of the distinguished award, Rose primarily cited the team and the mission as always coming before individual accolades. Nonetheless, she stated she was thrilled to receive the award because she understands what her accomplishment could mean for future award winners. 

“I know firsthand that not everyone receives encouragement into the STEM field, but we do play a big part in technology,” Rose said. 

As an active mentor in her community, Maj Rose stated that she hopes this award “can show the next generation they can use their talents to better themselves, their society, and the United States of America as a whole.”

Rose grew up in a low income, single parent home with her twin sister and mother in Southeast San Diego, California. In her early childhood, she received VTech computers from the annual Marine “Toys for Tots” drive. 

In middle school, Rose took advanced mathematics, intensive science classes, and computer classes whenever she could. Her high school Dean of Mathematics, recommended she become a computer scientist, acknowledging the ease at which the subject matter came to Rose. 

Continuing her education, Rose attended Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia where she double majored in Computer Engineering and Mathematics. When she learned the United States Air Force would grant her a scholarship if she attended a Historically Black College & University, majored in a STEM field, and committed to a serve a four-year commission, Rose soon found herself transferring to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC and enrolling in AFROTC at a satellite school, UNC – Charlotte.

As if this commitment was not already enough, Rose also managed to work three other jobs, while still finding time to captain JCSU’s women’s golf team, initiating in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., serving as her Detachment’s Cadet Wing Commander, and graduating Cum Laude. 

Following her graduation, Rose worked at the National Security Agency for four years, with her initial three assignments granting her insight into a broad spectrum of engineering. 

Shortly after, Rose moved over to the 453d EWS, a squadron in the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing that focuses on advancing hi-fi electronic warfare threat modeling and large-force battlespace simulation, detecting and examining threat changes in the electromagnetic domain, and analyzing U.S. weapons systems threat detection accuracy. 

As a key engineer in the squadron, Maj Rose earned her call sign of “Thorn” by having an attitude of no nonsense and, as she puts it, “remaining a thorn in your side until the job gets done.”

Rose is the current 453d EWS’s Assistant Director of Operations of Engineering, Modeling, Simulation and Analysis mission, which is made up entirely of engineers and programmers. Here, she assists recruiting new talent to the squadron while empowering her flights to accomplish goals, among numerous other roles and responsibilities. 

Citing the trust and leadership from the 453d EWS Squadron Commander, Lt. Col. Craig “Po” Rumble, Rose has seen her work in the 453d EWS have a growing impact. Empowered with decision making abilities, Rose stated she has been “able to focus more on the mission, with a growing connection to [other partner squadrons, such as] the 39 EWS and the 57 Intelligence Squadron.”

This enhanced communication and transparency with additional squadrons has fostered a culture of strong collaboration across EW units. 

Rose aims to continue pushing the envelope of diversity, including diversity of thought. Stressing this importance, Rose looks to her team to continue to improve, work together, and strive to be as efficient as possible. She hopes to expose younger generations to STEM concepts as soon as possible, building those skills early and quickly, and ensuring younger groups understand it’s okay to make mistakes while learning from them. 

As Rose put it, “I want to be a model on how to be your own individual person. It’s okay to strive to be me, but I challenge you to be better than me.”