Remembering a civil engineering trailblazer: Bonnie Faye Snodgress

Bonnie Snodgress, CSU civil engineering pioneer
Bonnie Snodgress, CSU civil engineering pioneer

Bonnie Faye Snodgress passed away Sunday, February 23, 2020 at her home in Sedalia just three weeks shy of her 78th birthday. She was Bonnie Webb when she graduated from the CSU College of Engineering in 1964 – the only woman in her class, and the first to graduate in more than 40 years.

She was born in 1942 in Santa Monica, California to Sally and Arthur Webb who soon moved to Colorado Springs where Sally ran her own business, Sally’s Shoes. Bonnie went on to graduate from Palmer High School with a four-year scholarship to CSU. Her preferred program, in veterinary medicine, was five years, so she ended up in civil engineering.

“I talked to some people in the profession and became interested in civil engineering,” she said in an interview with The Denver Post in 1973. “I decided that most women are going to have to work at one time or another, so why not choose something interesting and monetarily rewarding?”

She quickly found work with the Denver architectural firm Bourn and Dulaney, doing structural engineering for schools and public projects, most notably the Denver Art Museum, all while being a single mom to her son, Paul. Later she spent bulk of her career with Lockheed Martin, in Colorado and southern California, working in structural and civil engineering for large government projects, some of which were classified.

She spent her retirement working with draft horses, and traveling all over the world with her husband of 36 years, Bob Snodgress.

In later years, she would tell stories of being left outside when her class would tour large projects like the Eisenhower tunnel or the NORAD base in Cheyenne Mountain. But in general, she told the Post, “I really didn’t have any problems in school-except they had to change the summer surveying camp. There just weren’t adequate facilities. Taking a shower under a tree in full view of male classmates seemed a bit much.”

The surveying camp was eventually discontinued.