One could say that when Pamela Molison likes something, she sticks with it. There is something to be admired about her loyalty – to her job, her home, and her cars.
After high school, Pam was working at Hills Department Store in East York as a cashier when she received a postcard in the mail from a computer school in Pittsburgh. She filled it out and a representative from the school visited her at home. She completed the one-year program in Pittsburgh, but before returning home, she remembered her instructor advising the class to take a Civil Service test to gain a stable job through the state system. Once home, she accepted a job at the Susquehanna Broadcasting Company, but took a Civil Service test in Harrisburg. Within a few months, she was interviewed by PennDOT and accepted their offer. That was in January 1979, just 9 years after the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation was created in 1970.
Punch cards were on the way out when Pam started working on PennDOT's mainframe. She worked in application programming for her first six years with PennDOT and then transferred to the software section. She spent over thirty years there where she would install and test software on the mainframe.
When she first started, she had to solve the problems on her own and now, there are application tools to debug programs. Application programmers write programs using IMS software. Business Users use IMS to enter transactions that come in to the mail counters and she runs performance reports using IMS Performance Analyzer and Problem Investigator to track down where a problem lies. "We can track what a clerk enters, drill down into the IMS logs and find their problem," Molison said. Despite her title of an Information Technology Administrator, she is essentially a professional problem solver. "I like helping folks figure out their problems and help to get them resolved. I write automated tasks," she said.
In 2017, she received the PA Excellence in Technology Award at the PA Digital Government Summit. "Pam's expertise with IBM Mainframe technologies is extraordinary. She played a major role in starting up PennDOT's future-state infrastructure (x86/Linux) for the Vehicle and Driver's License System modernization project. This establishes the foundation for all future Vehicle and Driver License Systems modernization efforts," Philip Tomassini, CIO said. Other career highlights that Pam had was receiving the Secretary's Award of Excellence in 1990 from Secretary Howard Yerusalim.
Her most memorable time while working for PennDOT was after the fire closed the T&S building in 1994. After the fire, she and a co-worker would travel once a week to a disaster recovery site in Gaithersburg, MD and ran backups to restore the mainframe system. They took the mainframe backup tapes and restored the data to disk. They made this trip for eight weeks. She restored the operating system and the other employee would restore the IMS system.
Pam's dedication continues beyond her job. She has lived in the same house for over 50 years. She owned a 1985 Honda motorcycle for 29 years until it was beyond repair and now owns a 2014 Harley Sportster. She is just as consistent with the care of her cars. She first had a 1979 Firebird Formula and a 1989 Trans AM. In 2010, she sold her Firebird to an IBM employee and he put a lot of time and money into it. His friend put a new engine in it and he drove it to Florida where he resided. After a few years, he passed it on to his son who lived in Pittsburgh. Recently, he sent Pam a photo of his granddaughter driving the Trans AM! His son added, "I guess since they trust my daughter with a 30-million-dollar jet, I can trust her to drive the Trans AM!" The granddaughter was a sky diver in the Air Force and moved on to be a jet pilot.
We thank Pamela for her dedication to the department for more than four decades. Visit PennDOT.gov/50years
to learn about PennDOT's 50-year history.