New fund to benefit mechanical engineering

June 15, 2022

A brother’s last wish creates new scholarship at MSU

The devotion of a sister to her brother’s last wish has established a new engineering scholarship at Michigan State University.

The Steven James Church Mechanical Engineering Endowed Fund will benefit those interested in careers in mechanical engineering, said his sister Anne Marie Church, who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Steven Church and his sister, Anne Marie Church
Steven Church and his sister, Anne Marie Church

“Having got his start at Michigan State, it was Steve’s wish to establish a scholarship that would allow others to study mechanical engineering at MSU as he had done,” Church said. “I am establishing this fund in his loving memory.”

Tamara Reid Bush, professor and interim chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said she is excited that the experiences Steven Church had in mechanical engineering during his time at MSU resulted in a desire to give back to future students.

“It is passion from alumni, like Steven, that continues to confirm the positive, collaborative learning environment at MSU. The mechanical engineering faculty and students are extremely grateful for the kindness and support provided by this scholarship.”

Steven Church, P.E., was a two-time mechanical engineering graduate of the MSU College of Engineering, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1977 and a master’s in 1981. He continued his studies in civil and environmental engineering at the University of California Davis from 1990-1992. He was a professional engineer, certified by the California Board of Professional Engineers.

Anne Marie Church said her brother had an impressive career.

“He really was a rocket scientist,” she noted.

Steven Church was both a rocket scientist and a pilot.
Steven Church was both a rocket scientist and a pilot.

Beginning in 1981, he worked at Rocketdyne in Los Angeles on the Space Shuttle main engine high pressure oxygen turbopump diffuser vanes, hot gas manifold scale model testing, high pressure fuel turbopump redesign, and computational methods development. He then moved to Aerojet General in Sacramento to work on high pressure fuel turbopump redesign, turbopump and turbine design, and computational fluid dynamics.

He joined the California Air Resources Board in 1992 and served on their Mobile Source Control Division and research division, where he focused on car scrapping and clean transit bus guidelines, heavy-duty diesel 5g and the 4g NOx regulations. He also worked on innovative clean air technologies, JETS project, ZEV school bus demo, AB1493 mobile air conditioning implementation, ETAAC, and SF6 regulation, among other projects.

Church said her brother excelled as a contract manager working on highly technical and challenging air quality research projects over the years.

“One of his most notable projects was managing a research contract on one of the first comprehensive toxic emissions tests on ‘real world’ Southwest Airlines B-737 aircraft at Oakland International Airport. He was recognized with several superior accomplishment awards during his career, including one for exceptional service to the State of California.”

Church said her brother also had a passion for flying, earning his private pilot certificate in 1988.

“He traveled in more recent years taking amazing trips to Australia and many local trips where camping, hiking, motorcycling, four wheeling, and enjoying time with close friends was the order of the day.”

Steven Church died in California on June 17, 2021, at the age of 66.

“He really was a guy who lived his life to the fullest,” his sister added.

Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest academic disciplines at Michigan State University. It fulfills its forward-thinking role through the fundamental principles of mechanics, thermosciences, and design. Leading-edge research and pioneering studies help talented students pursue their diverse interests in aerospace, automotive and manufacturing, robotics, medical devices and artificial organs, and renewable energy.