Beta Pi, 1953
City College of New York School of Technology
Retired from IBM
In 1953, Eta Kappa Nu gained one of its most memorable members when Dorothy Schnabel was inducted into the Beta Pi Chapter at the City College of New York School of Technology. Having the foundation of IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu helped prepare her as a student to be ready for an exciting, successful, and inspiring career in electrical engineering. She says, “One thing I was always thankful for was not only was I admitted, I was well accepted. I had good rapport with the students and the teachers, and was treated like a lady, something that didn’t always happen in industry.”
Dorothy started as a summer intern at IBM in 1955, while working on her master’s degree in electrical engineering. Her first project was coding on a computer used for national defense. In late 1959 she worked on a computer attachment to a supercomputer that was designed for code deciphering, for national security. She wrote microcode for the System/360 model 50, which she described as a “very exciting period.” A decade or so after, she was promoted to a Senior Engineer management position where she supervised performance evaluation of processors. It gave her the position needed to go to the IBM Systems Research Institute in New York City to teach and take classes.
After her time in New York, she said she was responsible for obtaining many technical articles written by the engineers who developed the new IBM 3081 computer that had novel and advanced water cooling design. She also contributed to the lead article for the IBM Journal of Research and Development published in January 1982.
She ended her time with IBM as a Program Manager of a technically diverse group working on a variety of projects, before teaching at the IBM Systems Institute for a year. Not long after retiring, however, she was called back to work on a patent infringement lawsuit, which had her looking at the architecture of IBM System/360, something she was already familiar with from her work in the 1960s.
Dorothy demonstrated brilliance and perseverance throughout her many projects and requirements at IBM. Her exemplary actions show how electrical engineers can use their expertise to create world-changing technology for all of humanity. Furthermore, she showed courageousness to walk a path not many women engineers had walked before, and pave a way for not only women, but for all under-represented groups in engineering. Her leadership capabilities, significant honors, and positive attitude demonstrate some of the highest ideals to live up to as an engineer, making her a role model for all those who follow in her footsteps.
Because of her commitment to ensuring that engineering careers are open to students from under-represented populations, Dorothy makes an annual contribution to IEEE-HKN.
You can, too, by visiting the IEEE-HKN donation page.