Patricia Wirth grew up on a farm outside Nebraska City. Earned a B.A. degree in mathematics in three years with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1971. She received the M.S. and D.Sc. degrees in Systems Science and Mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1978 and 1981 respectively.
In 1981 Pat joined AT&T Bell Laboratories and in 1990 she was promoted to Head of the Department of Teletraffic Theory and System Performance.
Pat also chaired the AT&T Labs Fellowship Program that provided financial and mentoring support to women and minorities pursuing doctorates in the sciences and engineering; this program was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring and supported nearly 100 students during her tenure. She has received the YWCA Tribute to Women and Industry Award, the Women of AT&T Management Executive Award and was honored as a “Master” by the University of Nebraska. In 1997 she was the first woman to be named an AT&T Fellow, the highest technical award given at AT&T, “for the application of teletraffic theory, network performance modeling and systems analysis leading to the world-class performance of the global AT&T network.”