The gift from the co-chairs and co-CEOs of the Panda Restaurant Group will support medical engineers working to apply multidisciplinary engineering principles to the design and fabrication of devices and systems for use in translational medicine, including diagnostics, therapeutics, implants, and non-invasive imaging. In recognition of the gift, which will count toward Caltech's $2 billion capital campaign, the department will be named for the Cherngs — the first of the university's departments to be named and endowed.
Andrew Cherng came to the United States as a student and earned a B.S. in mathematics and an M.S. in applied mathematics before he and his master chef father opened the Panda Inn restaurant in Pasadena in 1973. His wife, Peggy, who holds an M.S. in computer science and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, worked in software development at McDonnell Douglas and Comtal/3M before joining the family business in 1982, where she developed systems to track inventory, purchasing, and customer feedback that helped the family grow the business into what eventually became a global chain with two thousand outlets. She was elected to Caltech's board in 2012.
"We are here to build the American dream, but not just for us," said Cherng. "We want to give to the right cause, and medical engineering will help others. I see Caltech helping to create a bright future ahead."
"Andrew and Peggy Cherng's story is a quintessential example of success rooted in Pasadena and impact felt across the world," said Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. "In the same way, their extraordinary gift to support the country's first medical engineering department here at Caltech will enable new discoveries and cures, rippling out to improve human lives everywhere."