Initially interested in pursuing a career in mathematics, Sandra J. Cynar, DEng, was encouraged by a friend of her father, whose wife was a mathematician, to go into engineering. Once she got into engineering, she had her son in 1970 and stopped working to raise her family. When it was time for her to go back to work, she wanted to do something that would afford her also to be able to spend more time with her son, which is when she went into education. Dr. Cynar began her professional career as a controls engineer at General Dynamics in Pomona, California, in 1963, remaining in this positon for one year before becoming a management trainee at Pacific Telephone in Alhambra, California, from 1964 to 1965. She then served as a science programmer at North American Rockwell in Downey, California, from 1965 to 1968 and McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, California, from 1968 to 1970.
Continuing on her professional path, Dr. Cynar joined California State University (CSU), Long Beach as a professor of engineering and computer engineering in 1977, where she continued to work until her retirement. During this time, she also chaired the computer engineering and computer science department from 1995 to 2006. In addition to this tenure, Dr. Cynar was an engineer working on missile systems and DC-10 designs for the Apollo from 1963 to 1970 and a tenured lecturer from 1977 to 2010. A faculty advisor for CSU’s IEEE Computer Society from 1988 to 1994, she also served the university in other positions including department chair, associate dean and interim dean. Additionally, she was active with Simulation and Engineering Education in San Diego as program chairman from 1988 to 1989, conference chairman from 1989 to 1990 and session chairman from 1991 to 1992, as well as the Micro Mouse Team from 1987 to 1994 and the Society of Women Engineers from 1988 to 1994.
Prior to the start of her career, Dr. Cynar pursued a formal education at CSU Long Beach, earning a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1963 and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1978. She then matriculated at the University of California Irvine, where she attained a DEng in electrical engineering in 1986. A prolific writer, Dr. Cynar authored one book, “Numerical Methods for Engineers,” and has contributed myriad articles to professional journals. She also created the animated films “Tuned Pendulum” in 1988 and “Solution of Ode’s” in 1989.
Outside of her primary trade, Dr. Cynar is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest association of technical professionals. Likewise, she has maintained involvement with the Society of Computer Simulation, the National Computer Graphics Association, the American Society of Engineering Education and the Association for Computing Machinery. In light of her achievements, Dr. Cynar received the Excellence in Teaching Award from TRW in 1992. Moreover, she was selected for inclusion in the third edition of Who’s Who in American Education and several editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, and Who’s Who in the World.
If Dr. Cynar could live her life over again, she would not do what she has done again because it was late in her life. Receiving a doctorate later in her career was not easy. However, now that she retired, all of the things that she has done after receiving a doctorate would not have happened if it were not that degree. She is grateful to Gene Hottestter for suggesting that she go back to get a doctorate, also citing Michael Mahoney as an influence.