Anna Kazandjian Longobardo – First female engineer in the United States

Anna Kazanjian Longobardo, Engineering Pioneer

Anna was born in New York City to Aram and Zarouhy Kazanjian. Her mother emigrated from Constantinople, where she and her family had survived the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks; her father emigrated from Aleppo, Syria. Anna grew up in Washington Heights and attended George Washington High School before attending Barnard College and Columbia University, where she was the first woman to receive a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering as one of two woman in the first joint Barnard-Columbia Engineering class. She later received her MS, with honors in Mechanical Engineering, from Columbia.

Mrs. Longobardo had a long and successful career in engineering and in management. She was recognized as an innovator and a trailblazer in her field. When she retired in 1995, Mrs. Longobardo was a senior executive in Unisys Corporation’s defense group, heading a worldwide unit with over 100 locations supporting complex military systems. She held a number of other senior positions at Unisys, including as Director of Strategic Initiatives and Director of Technical Services.

Early in her career, at the American Bosch Arma Corporation, Mrs. Longobardo was among the first women to work on board submarines, destroyers and other U.S. Navy vessels. Her innovative work in this area included increasing navigational accuracy for submarines operating below periscope depth. She also did pioneering work on the Atlas missile targeting systems and the weapon design and ballistics on the tail guns of the B-52 bomber.

She joined Sperry Gyroscope Corporation in 1965 and was a program manager for a number of Air Force and Federal Highway Administration programs, and worked on many Defense Department matters. She also served as a director of Woodward-Clyde Group, an environmental, geological, and civil engineering consulting firm, from 1988 to 1997.

In 1997 she received the Columbia University School of Engineering’s Egleston Award for Distinguished Engineering Achievement, the first woman to do so. Mrs. Longobardo, a Fellow of the Society of Women Engineers, was an inspiration to women engineers across the globe. She actively supported women engineers, their education, and their careers, throughout her career and even after her retirement. She was also a founder and board member of the Armenian National Science and Education Fund, founded in 2000 to support scientists and scholars in Armenia.

Columbia University played an important role in Mrs. Longobardo’s life. Not only did she meet her husband, a classmate, during her time there, but her Columbia professors challenged her and encouraged her to succeed, despite her being a woman in what was a male-dominated profession. Mrs. Longobardo showed her gratitude to her Alma Mater by decades of service.

She received the Columbia University Alumni Medal for Service in 1980, was the first woman president of the Columbia Engineering Alumni Society, was chair of the Engineering School Board of Visitors, and was the first woman and two-term president of the Columbia University Alumni Federation. From 1990 to 1996 she was an Alumni Trustee of Columbia University and was a Trustee Emerita at the time of her death.

Mrs. Longobardo was a longtime Bronxville Village resident. She and her husband Guy and their children moved to Crows Nest Road in 1969. She was a member of the Bronxville Field Club and the Working Gardeners. She served as Chairwoman of the Bronxville Design Review Committee and on the Bronxville Planning Board, where she was Vice Chairperson, for over two decades.

Yet, for all her professional and service accomplishments, nothing made Mrs. Longobardo happier than her time with her family. She truly believed in the power of love, and was very proud of her husband, children, grandchildren, and her three nieces and three nephews.

She was an active traveler, reader, and stock market investor, who with her husband spent many evenings at the theater and opera or dining out with friends in New York. Her favorite times were spent on the East End of Long Island where her family had first summered in the 1930s, and particularly on the beach in Amagansett, where the family has a cottage and where she and her sister and their families have spent summers since the early 1960s.

Most of all, she was a force–a remarkable, accomplished, loyal, and giving woman, who was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother. She will be greatly missed.

In lieu of flowers, donations to The Armenian National Science and Education Fund (ANSEF), Fund for Armenian Relief, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016 ( or to the Columbia University School of Engineering, c/o Columbia University Gift Systems, P.O. Box 1523, Attn: Columbia Engineering/Longobardo Scholarship Fund, New York, NY 10008 (, would be greatly appreciated.

Anna Kazanjian Longobardo of Bronxville, NY and Amagansett, NY passed away peacefully at home on December 7, 2020. She is survived by her husband Guy S. Longobardo, her son Guy A. Longobardo (and partner Michele Epley), daughter Alicia Longobardo Wyckoff (and son-in-law Robert Wyckoff) and her grandchildren Alice Longobardo, Anne Longobardo Donado (and husband Eric), Amelia Wyckoff and Harrison Wyckoff. She was predeceased by her sister Mildred.


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Columbia Engineers Share Their Stories – Anna Longobardo

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