Caltech has over 22,000 living alumni, of whom 17 are Nobel Prize-winning scientists. The Institute has produced leaders in almost every field imaginable.
Following is a brief sampling of notable former Techers.
- Frank Borman, commanded the 1968 Apollo 8 Mission, the first team of astronauts to circle the moon
- C. Gordon Fullerton, piloted the third space shuttle mission and orbited the earth in Skylab
- Carolyn C. Porco, Imaging Team Leader for the Cassini-Huygens Mission and Director of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations, currently in orbit around Saturn
- Allen E. Puckett, chairman emeritus, Hughes Aircraft Co.
- Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut; former U.S. senator
- Eugen Merle Shoemaker, co-discovered Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (a comet which crashed into the planet Jupiter) and was the first person buried on the moon (by having his ashes crashed into the moon)
- Ozires Silva, founded Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace conglomerate that produces commercial military, and executive aircraft. It is the world's 3rd largest commercial aircraft company
- David W. Thompson, chairman and chief executive officer of Orbital Sciences Corporation. One of America's leading space-related R&D and manufacturing companies
- William Colglazier, Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Colglazier is the fourth leader of the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary, an office whose mission is "to serve the U.S. national interest by promoting global scientific and technological progress as integral components of U.S. diplomacy."
- France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation
- Regina Dugan, Former Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); the first female director appointed
- Paul Filmer, Program Director at the National Science Foundation and makes funding decision for U.S. proposals dealing with climate change and evolution
- Steingrimur Hermannsson, Former prime minister, Iceland
- Brian Jackson, Senior physical scientist for the Homeland Security Program at the RAND Corporation. His work involves homeland security and counterterrorism policy decision-making and research.
- Arati Prabhakar, Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
- Joseph Rhodes, Former state representative, deputy secretary of commerce, and member of the Public Utility Commission, Pennsylvania
- Ronald W. Davis, Director of the Genome Technology Center at Stanford University
- Steven Koonin, Director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University
- Raymond L. Orbach, Director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin
- Mark S. Wrighton, Chancellor, Washington University, St. Louis
- Moshe Arens, Former Israeli minister of defense and foreign affairs
- Arnold O. Beckman, Founder and chairman emeritus, Beckman Instruments
- Sabeer Bhatia, Cofounded Hotmail, the first free web-based email service
- Chester F. Carlson, Inventor of Xerography (photocopying)
- James E. Hall, Founder and president, Jim Hall Racing
- David Ho, Director, Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center; 1996 Time magazine Man of the Year
- York Liao, Co-founded Varitronix, one of the first manufactures of LCD. (Hong Kong)
- Ruben F. Mettler, Retired chairman and CEO, TRW Inc
- Cleve B. Moler, Cofounder, chairman, and chief scientist at MathWorks, which is responsible for MATLAB
- Gordon E. Moore, Chairman emeritus and cofounder, Intel Corp.
- Dominic P. Orr, President and CEO of Aruba Networks, the number two market leader in enterprise wireless LAN, behind only Cisco. The company pioneered the concept of central wireless LAN
- Simon Ramo, Cofounder, TRW Inc.
- Benjamin M. Rosen, Chairman of the board, Compaq Computer Corp.
- Warren G. Schlinger, Worked at Texaco, Inc., processing oil shales, desulfurization technology, and coal gasification technology. 65 patents
- Charles R. Trimble, President of Trimble Navigation, Ltd. And one of the company's four founders. Company has industry dominance in the manufacturing and application of the Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, rangefinders, inertial navigation systems
- Charles E. (Chuck) Wheatley III, Senior Vice President of Technology, QUALCOMM, Inc.
- T. A. Wilson, chairman emeritus, Boeing Company
- Dean E. Wooldridge, cofounder, TRW Inc.
- David Brin, science-fiction writer (Startide Rising; The Postman; Foundation's Triumph). His 15 novels have been translated into more than 20 languages
- Frank Capra, film director (It Happened One Night; Lost Horizon; It's a Wonderful Life)
- Ray Feeney, provides leading-edge scientific and engineering solutions to the film industry founded RFX, Inc, and has helped produce groundbreaking visual effects for both feature films and television. 2006 Oscar for lifetime achievement for contributions toward the science and technology of filmmaking
- Robert J. Lang, is a leading master of origami, with over 500 designs catalogued and diagramed. His work has been shown in Paris's Carrousel du Louvre; New York's Museum of Modern Art; the Peabody Essex Museum; San Diego's Mingei International Museum; and the Nippon Origami Museum in Kaga, Japan
- Alan P. Lightman, theoretical physicist-cum-novelist and essayist (Einstein's Dreams; Dance for Two; Good Benito)
- Harold J. McGee, a renowned food science author, who is recognized as being the man who "brought science to the art of cooking." Selected as one of "The 2008 Time 100." Writes a monthly column about the science of food for the New York Times, titled "The Curious Cook"
- Sandra Tsing Loh, writer/performer (Depth Takes a Holiday; Aliens in America; If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home by Now)
Read profiles of past winners of the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor the Institute bestows upon a graduate, in recognition of "a particular achievement of noteworthy value, a series of such achievements, or a career of noteworthy accomplishment." Selections for this award are made by a faculty and alumni committee and confirmed by the Board of Trustees. Since the award's inception in 1966 Caltech has recognized a total of 221 alumni as standouts in science, engineering, business and the arts.