Rice alumnus Juan “Tony” Castilleja Jr. ’09 ’11 receives Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award

Space, defense and security expert lauded for professional accomplishments, STEM outreach and mentorship.

Tony Castilleja head shot

The George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Rice Engineering Alumni board recently announced Juan “Tony” Castilleja Jr. as a recipient of the Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award. This award, which recognizes the achievements of Rice engineering alumni under the age of 40, was established in 1996 with William H. White ’86 as the first recipient.

Tony Castilleja Jr. is an established engineer in the space and security industries. He is a Senior Manager at Boeing Defense, Space, and Security, one of the world's largest defense and space contractors. Previously, he was the Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff to the Senior Vice President at Boeing Space & Launch, an entity that has supported the International Space Station, the CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle, NASA’s Space Launch System, and government and commercial satellite systems. Castilleja also served as a systems engineer for the company, covering roles such as affordability analysis for low rate production, architecture development, wind tunnel testing, full-scale training systems development and program integration. Additionally, he has worked on a variety of defense and space projects, from the P-8A Poseidon aircraft to 16 space shuttle missions, for which he supported launches and landings for NASA at Mission Control in Houston. 

Castilleja is also a Private Sector Fellow at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, where he joins peers from the Department of Defense & Military Services, Department of State, government agencies, and international colleagues to inform national strategy. 

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) advocacy has always been a priority for Castilleja, both in his roles at Boeing and as a Rice student. At a national level, Castilleja has served as a panelist for the U.S. Department of Education for English Language Learners, and he helped develop a STEM education strategy for Boeing through multiple external outreach partnerships. Also an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, he is the Boeing Company Focal for Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (OSTEM), supporting LGBTQ+ representation in STEM. He has received a Great Minds in STEM National Community Service Award for his outreach efforts. In 2011, he was selected as a White House Fellows Regional Finalist for founding the DREAM STEM engineering mentorship program at Rice University. 

Castilleja completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Rice University in 2009 and 2011. While at Rice, he also served as Honorary Staff in the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership.

The Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award recognizes Castilleja for his professional accomplishments and service to the community. Castilleja and other 2023 alumni award recipients will be honored at the 2024 George R. Brown School of Engineering Alumni Awards Celebration.