Entrepreneur Steve Fujikawa ’77 has committed an eight-figure gift to aerospace engineering at Cornell, an investment that will strengthen the university’s status as a leader in space education and research.
The Stephen J. Fujikawa ’77 Endowment for Astronautical Engineering will be used for future investments in graduate fellowships, professorships and laboratory enhancements, with the ultimate goal of creating an institute for space technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.
The endowment will help grow Cornell’s roster of faculty with aerospace industry experience, creating new opportunities for technology translation and business partnerships. The endowment will also support the development of a space technology design lab and a spacecraft demonstration lab, adding to existing opportunities for students to engineer and test technologies such as satellites and sensors.
“The impact of this gift will reverberate across Cornell, benefitting the interdisciplinary astronomers, materials scientists, roboticists, physicists and computer scientists who collaborate with our aerospace engineers,” said President Martha E. Pollack. “I’m so grateful to Steve for enabling us to advance a shared vision for the future of space sciences and technology at Cornell.”
Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering, said Fujikawa’s gift is an investment not just in Cornell, but in expanding humanity’s reach across the solar system.
“The advent of commercial space exploration has enabled successful entrepreneurs, including Steve, to advance rocketry and spacecraft technologies, making access to space easier and more affordable,” Archer said. “Steve’s forward-thinking gift will help prepare our students for this transformational change as they enter industry or begin their own startups.”
Fujikawa received his bachelor’s degree from the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering before founding satellite manufacturer Maryland Aerospace in 2002. Following a series of mergers and acquisitions, the company became part of Redwire, which provides space solutions to NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and commercial and academic entities.
“It is an honor and a privilege to provide this endowment for Cornell,” Fujikawa said. “I wanted to be able to give back to the university and the space community for affording me the opportunity to contribute over the course of my career.”
The Sibley School has long been considered one of the premier institutes for the study of space technology. Among its standout laboratories is the Space Systems Design Studio, directed by Mason Peck, the Stephen J. Fujikawa ’77 Professor of Astronautical Engineering.
“Steve’s vision for space science and engineering at Cornell looks to the future – space entrepreneurship, game-changing technologies and innovative student experiences,” Peck said. “This level of support, coming from one of our most successful technological innovators, communicates that Cornell’s space technology research and education address cutting-edge needs for the nation.”