You can build a life anywhere. And there are certainly good locations for building a career.
In fact, many early-career engineers have found the right place to do both: Tucson, Arizona, home to the headquarters of Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a business of Raytheon Technologies.
“I love having cheap rent and being able to live alone and save money,” said Amelia Swan, a mechanical engineer who designs, builds and tests missile steering hardware. “I have friends who are in San Francisco, and rent is half their paycheck.”
Affordability and quality of life are also big draws for Tyler Allen, a systems engineer building simulations for a range of defense solutions and systems. Even more important to him: chances to work on innovative technology.
“We create virtual environments that missiles fly through,” Allen said. “We give them targets, terrain and things that could distract them. That’s how we quantify how the missile’s going to perform before it ever gets to the range.”
In recent years, Tucson has become a hot spot for engineers like Swan and Allen. The southern Arizona city ranks in the top 10 of up-and-coming tech markets, according to the commercial real estate firm CBRE. Its 2021 report noted an increase of 47 percent in technology industry growth over the past five years in the city, with wages rising by 13 percent in that timeframe. Meanwhile, in 2021, Forbes named Tucson one of the seven best places for remote work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, also citing that its cost of living is 8 percent below the national average. Compare that with San Francisco’s cost of living, which is some 90 percent above the national average.
“Tucson is a great place for young professionals who enjoy being outdoors and are looking for an affordable place to live,” said Shane Gill, who moved to Tucson in 2019 to join Raytheon Missiles & Defense as a senior systems engineer. The California native also appreciates the business’ support for women in engineering as well as its innovation mindset. “We're not just doing the same old, same old. You're not just innovating at the design phase; you're also innovating all the way to production.”