Irma Wyman

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For other people named Wyman, see Wyman (disambiguation).

Irma M. Wyman (January 31, 1928 - November 17, 2015) was an early computer engineer and the first woman to become vice president of Honeywell, Inc. She was a systems thinking tutor and was the first female CIO of Honeywell.

Academic life[edit]

In 1945, Wyman received a Regents Scholarship and was accepted into the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan as one of seven female students. To supplement her scholarship, she worked as a switchboard operator and waitress.

At the time, women in engineering programs received little encouragement and support. While her grades qualified her for membership in Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, she received only a "Women's Badge", since the society did not admit women at the time. Wyman graduated with a Bachelor of Science/EM degree in 1949.

Career[edit]

Computing[edit]

While still a junior in college, Wyman worked on a missile guidance project at the Willow Run Research Center. To calculate trajectory, they used mechanical calculators. She visited the U.S. Naval Proving Ground where Grace Hopper was working on similar problems and discovered they were using a prototype of a programmable Mark II computer developed at Harvard University. She became interested in computers and later recalled that "I became an enthusiastic pioneer in this new technology and it led to my life's career."[1]

After graduation, she joined a start-up company that was eventually acquired by Honeywell Information Systems. She moved to Minneapolis and began a long management career at Honeywell, eventually serving as Chief Information Officer. She became vice president of Honeywell Corporate Information Management (CIM) before retiring in 1990.[2]

Wyman then began a second career as archdeacon in the Minnesota Diocese of the Episcopal Church where she coached servant leadership, retiring again after ten years as Archdeacon of the Diocese of Minnesota.

Wyman supported research and planning as a thought leader in futures studies. As an aside to this, she contended to an interviewer in 1979, that

it's just as important to know when to ignore all the careful planning and seize an opportunity.

Wyman endowed the Irma M. Wyman Scholarship at the University of Michigan's Center for the Education of Women to support women in engineering, computer science and related fields.[3] Irma's persistent advocacy for women in computer science reflects those of her early career mentor:

The most important thing I've accomplished ... is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, 'Do you think we can do this?' I say, "Try it." And I back 'em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir 'em up at intervals so they don't forget to take chances.[4]

Awards and Honors[edit]

  • Michigan Engineering Alumni Society Medal - 2001
  • Honorary Doctor of Engineering, University of Michigan - 2007

Quote[edit]

We never get a second chance to make a first impression. (1983–1987)

When sponsoring Honeywell's innovative Corporate Information Management Information Security Awareness Program (ISAP).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Irma Wyman". Michigan Engineer, Spring 2010: Women in Engineering. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  2. ^ "Irma Wyman (1928-)". Women in the History of Computing Technology. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  3. ^ "Irma Wyman". Michigan Engineer, Spring 2010: Women in Engineering. Retrieved 2011-05-28. 
  4. ^ Gilbert, Lynn (December 10, 2012). Particular Passions: Grace Murray Hopper. Women of Wisdom Series (1st ed.). New York City: Lynn Gilbert Inc. ISBN 978-1-61979-403-0. 
  5. ^ "Irma Wyman (1928-2015)". Alumnae & Pioneer of Women in Engineering, Passed Away. Retrieved 2017-02-08. 

External links[edit]

"Oral history interview with Irma M. Wyman, 1992". Honeywell archive, Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 2017-02-08. 

"NSWC Dalgren Division". U.S. Naval Proving Ground. Retrieved 2017-02-08.