This alumnus grew up in Alhambra, just a 10-minute drive from Caltech. He saw his high school’s most talented students pursue their passion for science and engineering at Caltech. As an aspiring physicist, he was eager to join them. 

“Caltech was the place to be for science,” he says. “At the time, I may have had only a vague idea of what a physicist did, but I knew that if I wanted to excel in the field, I had to go to Caltech.” 
This alumnus lived at home rather than on campus and immersed himself in courses and lab assignments during the school year. He spent his summers working in Caltech’s Synchrotron Laboratory along Olive Walk. The synchrotron was a useful atom smasher in its day. Its motor generator set, which incorporated a large flywheel for energy storage, shook the buildings on the north side of campus, he recalls. He performed data analyses, created nomograms (graphic representations of equations), and did any other tasks the lab’s graduate students and postdoctoral scholars asked of him. Although he eventually decided not to pursue high-energy physics, he says the time he spent in the Synchrotron Laboratory offered an exciting glimpse into physics research. 

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics, this alumnus earned master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He worked as a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell University before landing a job as a scientist with The Aerospace Corporation. For 53 years, he used a wide range of tools, such as electron microscopy, focused-ion beam systems, and X-ray tomography, to support military space programs. For a brief time, he even performed forensics research to assist local law enforcement agencies.

Throughout his career, this alumnus found time to give back to his alma mater. He served as president of the Caltech Alumni Association in the early 1990s, helped plan Seminar Day from 2012 to 2020, and sat on the board of Caltech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. On behalf of The Aerospace Corporation, he also recruited Caltech students for internships and jobs and directed funds to SURF. 

As this alumnus transitioned to life as a retiree, Caltech remained top of mind. He moved into a retirement community in Pasadena so he could easily visit campus.


Gary Stupian (BS ʼ61) also decided to create a lasting legacy at the Institute. He designated a substantial portion of his estate to Caltech, which he hopes will enable future generations of students to conduct hands-on research and follow their curiosities. 

“Caltech prepared me for the rigors of graduate school and helped me succeed in a meaningful career,” Stupian says. “Now it’s time for today’s and tomorrow’s scientists and engineers to leave their mark on the world. I hope this bequest makes it easier for them to achieve their dreams.”