Honorary Degrees

Honorary Degrees

Alfred Qöyawayma
  • Alfred Qöyawayma
Alfred Qöyawayma

Inventor/Artist

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

The life and career of Cal Poly alumnus Alfred Qöyawayma are testament to the unique value of a Cal Poly education. As an accomplished engineer, inventor and artist, Mr. Qöyawayma epitomizes university traditions including interdisciplinary problem-solving, whole-systems thinking and Learn by Doing. He also is acclaimed for his creativity as an artist producing works that preserve cultural traditions.

Mr. Qöyawayma, whose name in Hopi means "Grey Fox Walking at Dawn," earned his bachelor of science degree from Cal Poly in 1961 in mechanical engineering. The foundation he gained in whole-systems thinking and cross-disciplinary problem-solving was immediately useful as Mr. Qöyawayma began his career developing guidance systems and star trackers with military and commercial applications such as the X-15, F-15, 747 and Air Force One. This work was patented worldwide. In 1966, Mr. Qöyawayma received a master of science in engineering from the University of Southern California, specializing in control systems.

From 1971 to 1990, Mr. Qöyawayma worked in Arizona's electric power and water utility industry. He built an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers who helped create and license new power and water systems. In 1977, Mr. Qöyawayma cofounded and became the first Chairman of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), which has helped more than 12,000 students graduate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and medical fields.

In 1988, Mr. Qöyawayma received a White House appointment as Vice-Chairman of the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was actively involved in this public-private partnership to establish a premiere art museum and college campus for training American Indian artists.

Mr. Qöyawayma became a full-time artist and published researcher in 1990 focusing on ancient ceramics, epigraphy and native origins in the Western Hemisphere. He became a Fulbright Fellow in 1991 working with the Maori of New Zealand. His ceramic and sculpture creations are part of collections worldwide, including the "Corn Mother" bronze sculpture permanently exhibited at Cal Poly. In 2011 he was selected as an American Artist for the Smithsonian's permanent Archives of American Art.

In recognition of his influence in the fields of engineering and his creative works that inspire society, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo are proud to confer upon Alfred Qöyawayma the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.