Dorothy Schnabel ’54 EE

Engineering Role Model and Code-Cracker

When Dorothy Schnabel graduated cum laude from CCNY with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering 1954 she was one of only a handful of women students in the School of Engineering.  She was a lecturer in what is now CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering while pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Columbia University, and spent the better part of her professional life at IBM Corporation – the technology giant she joined three years later.

ver the course of thirty years at IBM Schnabel designed logic for mainframe computers, including an early machine that was designed for code cracking in the 1960s. She worked as an engineer and also as a program manager, responsible for managing engineers of some of the many different disciplines needed to support the development and manufacture of large high performance mainframe computers.

orothy Schnabel credits her City College education for nurturing her professionally. Excellent courses offered in electrical engineering pertaining to early computer design helped her make a career choice. While at CCNY, she was active in the Society of Women Engineers; was elected to Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical engineering honor society, and received the Women’s Badge of Tau Beta Pi. In the early 1990s, Ms. Schnabel was an adjunct Research Assistant at the University of South Florida in the Computer Science Department of the College of Engineering. 

An active volunteer in her church and community, Schnabel tutored children in mathematics, and encouraged many girls to consider the STEM profession. In appreciation of the excellent engineering education that she received at CCNY Dorothy Schnabel established an endowed scholarship at the Grove School of Engineering who are studying either electrical engineering or computer science, and in 2015 she awarded the Townsend Harris Medal – the highest recognition of The City College Alumni Association for those alumni who have contributed to their college, their community, and their country.