In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Stuart Steele

The NYU Tandon community mourns the passing of Professor Emeritus Stuart Andrew Steele on January 26, 2023.

Stu Steele — former Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering — earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Bucknell University in 1958. He served as an Officer in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1966 and subsequently earned master's and doctoral degrees in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.  While conducting his studies at Penn State, he taught and took the lead in designing and developing the school’s Digital Systems Laboratory and its Computer Center in Electrical Engineering. 

Steele returned to industry in 1966, joining GE’s Space Technology Division, where he developed complex control systems for use in spacecraft: at his subsequent post, he directed engineers and technical specialists at the GE Aerospace Missile and Surface Radar Division. He held the latter role from 1970 to 1985, when he was hired as Chief Engineer and Vice President of Engineering and Technical Operations for Northrop Grumman's Data Systems Division in Bethpage, New York, and Herndon, Virginia.

While at Northrop Grumman in Bethpage, Steele was recruited as a Professor at Polytechnic University — now NYU Tandon. In those years the school maintained a campus in Farmingdale, New York, and had a deep historical connection to the Grumman Corporation, which employed many alumni.

In 1997 he was brought to the Brooklyn campus to chair the Department of Computer and Information Science — now the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.  A list of his accomplishments from that era–from overseeing the computer science programs at multiple campuses; to managing full-time faculty members and adjuncts; to administering millions in research funding — while impressive, gives little indication of the respect and esteem in which he was held.

Upon hearing the news of his passing, former member of the department Alex Delis, now a professor at the University of Athens and visiting faculty at NYU Abu Dhabi, wrote: “Stu was the best boss I ever had by far. The manager of all managers. What an honest and personable gentleman. He was one of a kind.”

“Those of us who were lucky enough to be faculty in Stu's department when he was Chair are forever grateful to him for his leadership of the department and for the support he gave to us, both professionally and personally,” Professor and Interim Department Chair Lisa Hellerstein says. “He was a wonderful Chair and a wonderful human being.”