Grateful. Honored. Inspired. Eleven Schnabel Scholars expressed all of that and more while meeting with Dean Emeritus Bobby Schnabel and his wife Edie Stevenson during an April 21 gathering at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.
“This is my first experience meeting someone I’ve gotten a scholarship through,” said Nicole Miller, an intelligent systems engineer student. “I didn’t come to IU with many scholarships, so this was special. I like talking to people who have had such a huge influence at IU. He gave great advice.”
Schnabel steered what was then the IU School of Informatics and Computing to unprecedented growth as dean from 2007 to 2015. The Schnabel Scholar program was established in October of 2016 to support the school’s undergraduate students. A portion of the scholarships go to students pursuing intelligent systems engineering degrees, as well as students in under-represented populations, including those who are financially challenged and with diverse culture experiences.
There are 41 Schnabel Scholars this year, plus nearly 90 former scholars.
Current Schnabel scholarships are named in honor of Mike and Deborah Hatfield, Robert C. and Mariol B. Luddy (Fred Luddy's parents), Anand and Sonali Deshpande, and Scott and Erin Dorsey.
Joseph Bellahcen, also an intelligent systems engineering major, said he writes a thank-you letter to Schnabel and Stevenson at the end of every school year.
“It’s nice to see a person behind the scholarship and get to hear their stories,” he said. “Clearly, they’re trying to make a difference, and are very concerned about supporting people who are under-represented in technology. You could tell they are invested at a personal level in this institution.”
Schnabel interacted with all the students.
“I was very impressed by all of them and how engaged they were,” he said. “Hearing about how well the intelligent systems engineering program is going was the biggest revelation. That barely existed when we were here.”
Schnabel was instrumental in getting that program approved.
“I love to build things,” he said, “and when I came into this as dean, the School was very small. We were going through a huge growth phase. Being part of that was a wonderful opportunity. Surrounding myself with the right people made the biggest difference.”
Schnabel has returned to Bloomington to visit with Schnabel Scholars a couple of times since 2015, but hadn’t been back since the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020.
Now a computer science professor at the University of Colorado, Schnabel has long pushed for more participation of women and under-represented minorities in computing and technology. He co-founded the National Center for Women & Information Technology, founded ATLAS (Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society), and was previously the CEO of the Association for Computing Machinery
During the informal gathering, Schnabel wanted to know what students were doing, if they were interested in starting their own companies, and how they want to change the world. Student responses included addressing environment problems, effective waste management, and finding more sustainable ways to produce technology.
Schnabel encouraged them to make a difference in those areas and more. He emphasized the importance of doing good work, getting good mentors and building networks.
“In many ways, other than family, the network you build is the biggest thing. You can’t predict the path you’ll take, but good opportunities will come your way if you position yourself.”
Schnabel will return to Indiana University as a keynote speaker for next week’s spring graduation ceremony along with renowned entrepreneur and Kelley School of Business graduate Scott Dorsey.