Walter C. Snyder
Walter C. Snyder has a piece of advice for those looking to beef up the United States' ability to compete in a global economy: Train more engineers.
"It's almost a question of national security," says Snyder, who is retired from Eastman Kodak Company, where he ended his lengthy career with the title of director of training for the company's research laboratories. "We need to have welltrained and well-qualified technical people, especially engineers, to compete on a world economic basis. If we're going to keep our piece of the pie in the world, we need to have the best we can give."
Admittedly, he's biased. Snyder graduated from what is now the Swanson School of Engineering in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering; his son, Walter C. Snyder II, earned an electrical engineering degree at the school in 1987. "We're working on his son, but he's only 13," the senior Snyder jokes.
As part of his commitment to furthering the education of aspiring engineers, Snyder pledged $10,000 to the school's study abroad program to create the Walter C. Snyder Study Abroad Scholarship as well as $20,000 to create the Walter C. Snyder Engineering Legacy Fund. In the fall of 2010, he included in his estate plan a gift of $120,000 from his IRA that will create the Walter C. Snyder Scholarship for engineering students.
"Engineering life has been good to me, so I want to give back to the next generation," Snyder says.
He is particularly passionate about the study abroad program, which is designed to give students a broader world view to help them better compete in the global marketplace.
"You've got to get out of Dodge every once in a while," says Snyder. "The more they understand the world, the better they can function and the more valuable they'll be to the society they're living in."
Born in Ohio Township, a suburb north of Pittsburgh, Snyder was fascinated with farming and initially planned to attend Pennsylvania State University to study dairy husbandry. A visit from a Pitt representative to his high school during his senior year changed his future, preparing him not only to work as an engineer but also to adapt to changing technologies as he moved into management positions at Kodak.
The degree "provided me with good basic technical skills, and that opened up opportunities for me to learn specific skills," he says.