FOUNDERS

Kaya Tuncer

02_foundersMr. Kaya Tuncer, founder of ESBAS, Space Camp Turkey, and GFTSE passed away on January 7, 2012.

Mr. Tuncer was a very successful Turkish-American businessman and philanthropist.  He established ESBAS in 1991 to develop and manage the  Aegean Free Zone, Turkey’s leading industrial park. Mr. Tuncer was also the founder of  Space Camp Turkey, one of only three space camps in the world, which opened in 2000.  In 2002, he created  GFTSE (Global Friendship Through Space Education), which is dedicated to promoting friendship among young people from different countries and cultures through the study of space-related science and technology.  Through his generous contributions, Mr. Tuncer enabled kids from around the world to attend Space Camp Turkey on scholarships.

During his career, Mr. Tuncer worked with major construction, architectural, and engineering companies including Bechtel Corporation, Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall, as well as with consulting and real estate development firms.
Mr. Tuncer earned a B.S. in Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from the University of Southern California. He also held licenses in Civil Engineering and Structural Engineering in the State of California. 

His awards included: 
  • 1990 Alumni Achievement Award from Rancho Santiago College in Santa Ana, California. 
  • American Turkish Council’s 1999 award “Top Businessman of The Year” in Turkey. 
  • Association of Turkish-American Scientists 2002 award for the “Advancement of Education” in Turkey honoring his founding of Space Camp Turkey. 
  • 2003 “Turkish-American of the Year” award by the Turkish-American Association of Southern California. 
  • Ellis Island Medal of Honor, May 15, 2004. 
  • FDI Magazine’s award “Personality of the Year”, 2005. 

Mr. Tuncer married Mary Mills in 1963.  They have two married daughters who live in Northern California.


Mary Tuncer

Mary Tuncer is the co-founder of GFTSE and Chairwoman of the ESBAS Board of Directors. Mrs. Tuncer also has an active role in the management of Space Camp Turkey. In her earlier career, Mrs. Tuncer taught French and social studies at the junior high school level and worked as a graduate admissions evaluator at the University of Southern California.

An active member of the community, she has volunteered for community and civic activities including co-operative preschool, parent-teacher associations, and various women’s groups.
Mrs. Tuncer completed her undergraduate studies at Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, the University of Grenoble, France, and UC Berkeley, where she received a B.A. degree in French and a post-graduate secondary teaching credential.