Zippo pledges $2 million to Pitt-Bradford for engineering labs

Two men at construction site

Iconic Bradford company Zippo Manufacturing has pledged $2 million to Pitt–Bradford to equip state-of-the-art engineering labs in the campus’s new Engineering and Information Technologies Building, which is scheduled to be completed in fall 2022. 

“This donation is part of Zippo’s long-term commitment to Pitt-Bradford,” Zippo Chairman George Duke said in a news release, “and has the added benefit of paving the way for Pitt-Bradford engineering technology graduates to fill vital roles at Zippo, W.R. Case and other companies in the region.”

Zippo was founded in 1932 by George G. Blaisdell in Bradford, where it has manufactured more than 600 million windproof lighters. 

“We are grateful to George and Zippo for this generous gift, which will help us develop unique spaces where our students can be creative and innovative,” said Rick Esch, Pitt-Bradford’s interim president. “The hands-on experiences they will have in our new building will give them the preparation they need for successful engineering careers in our region and beyond.” 

“Zippo is proud to employ many Pitt-Bradford alumni, and we are fortunate to be able to support Pitt-Bradford’s student-growth focused technology and career-opportunities-driven initiatives,” said Mark Paup, president and CEO of Zippo, and its affiliated companies, W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery and Northern Lights Candle Co. “Zippo and Case are growing and to sustain that growth, we foresee a great need for additional engineering professionals within the organization.”

Two new engineering technology majors — mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology — that will be offered at Bradford starting in fall 2022.

“Our relationship with these expanded programs at Pitt-Bradford allows us to give students insight into the real-world applications of their studies,” Paup said.

Additionally, Zippo’s operations and innovations teams are providing support and guidance on the equipment to include within the labs. Internship opportunities also may develop as part of this ongoing collaboration.

In Pitt-Bradford’s new building, engineering technology students will have hands-on labs and will study applied science and mathematics. They will create their own projects in a maker space full of milling machines, lathes, welding equipment, metal-cutting technology and 3D printers and scanners.

Engineering technology-related labs in the new building will include:

  • A circuit lab with bench space for soldering, function generators, analog and digital microcontrollers, spectrum analyzer, and oscilloscopes.

  • A measurements lab where students will be able to work with sensors and automation in a space containing programmable logic controllers, wireless sensing hardware, ultrasonic flaw detectors, and more.

  • A machine shop with computer-controlled plasma cutter, CNC milling machines and lathes, variable speed drill presses, band saws, machine presses, disc and belt grinders, welders, and rapid prototype machines. Students will be able to create prototypes, then test them in the strength and materials or fluid dynamics lab.

  • A strength and materials lab, where students can test, measure, and destroy their creations by pulling, pushing, and hitting them with a compression/tension tester and a dynamic fatigue tester as well as testers for impact, hardness, and torque.

  • A fluid dynamics lab with a wind tunnel, table-top fluid process automation system, Rankine cycler and more.

The new building also will house three of Pitt-Bradford’s existing majors: computer information systems and technology, energy science and technology, and information systems.