Alumnus Kevin Crofton recently donated $2 million to establish a faculty chair in the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering within Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Kevin for this extraordinary donation,” said Richard Benson, the College of Engineering dean. “For a graduate of this department to give back to it so generously speaks volumes about him as a person. We also view this donation as a powerful endorsement of the quality of our research and teaching. Gifts like this inspire us to do all we can to provide a superior environment for education and research, and they help us to reach that goal.”

Crofton is a native of Fincastle, Virginia, who earned his bachelor’s in aerospace and ocean engineering in 1982. He spent the first decade of his career in the aerospace field, working on U.S. Department of Defense and commercial programs in propulsion for United Technologies, including Boeing’s Inertial Upper Stage Program, which positioned satellites in geosynchronous orbit from the Space Shuttle. 

Crofton, who holds an M.B.A. in international business from American University, has spent much of his career in the semiconductor industry, and is president of SPTS Technologies Ltd, a company based in the United Kingdom.

“There are several reasons that I chose to make this donation at this time,” Crofton said. “I suppose the first reason is that I’m proud to have received my engineering degree from Tech. My education here launched me on a great career. It provided not only the requisite technical background, but also the critical thinking skills – and the thirst to learn more, always – that have stuck with me through life. Getting an engineering degree here wasn’t easy, and there were dark days when I questioned whether I’d get through. But the program also taught me that perseverance pays off as well. In a way, this is an opportunity to outwardly express my gratitude.”

Crofton added that he wanted “to give back and make a difference to future generations of engineers, in particular in the aerospace and ocean engineering field. Tech’s program is well respected, and I want to see that continue.”

He also cited the university’s motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) as inspiring him.

“I am fortunate enough to have the means at my disposal to be able to make this donation,” Crofton said. “It is a way to serve the Tech community and to continue the long tradition of excellence that exists at the university.”

Eric Paterson, head of the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, said the establishment of the Kevin Crofton Faculty Chair will have a major impact.

“To have an endowed chair in the department is wonderful from the perspective of allowing us to recruit somebody of national or international preeminence,” he said. “This level of gift will generate revenue that will not only allow us to offer a very competitive salary, but to offer an operations budget for the chair’s research.”