In 1917, Russian native Alexander Petroff came to the United States in the midst of the Russian Revolution. Once in America, he taught aeronautical engineering at the University of Michigan. In the early 1930s, Dr. Petroff took a position as the University of Wichitas first aeronautical engineering professor. As director of the aeronautical engineering department, he was instrumental in supervising the construction of Wichitas first wind tunnel. This tunnel created a strong link between the university and the growing aviation industry in Wichita. While at WU, Dr. Petroff also met Genevieve M. Stover, whom he married. Mrs. Petroff, originally from Dallas, obtained her Bachelor of Arts in education from the University of Wichita in 1931.
Upon Dr. Petroffs passing, Mrs. Petroff established the Alex Petroff Memorial Scholarship in his honor. When she passed away in 1989, a portion of her estate was contributed to the scholarship, which was renamed the Alex and Genevieve Memorial Scholarship. Aside from establishing a strong aeronautical engineering program at WSU, the Petroffs made a remarkable contribution by ensuring countless students the opportunity of a higher education.