Zippo pledges $2 million to campus for engineering labs

Gift will provide equipment for new engineering programs

Rick and George at Construction Site

Zippo Manufacturing Co. Chairman, George Duke, announced a $2 million gift to the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, dedicated largely to equipping 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.

“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.”

Duke said, “This donation is part of Zippo’s long-term commitment to Pitt-Bradford 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.”

Mark Paup, President and Chief Executive Officer of Zippo, W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery, Co., and Wellsville, NY-based Northern Lights Candle Co., said: “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. The university’s tremendous educational opportunities and its direct relationship to viable careers not only encourages students from the area to stay local, it also attracts new talent to the region.”

“Zippo and Case are growing and to sustain that growth, we foresee a great need for additional engineering professionals within the organization. From product innovation to enhancing our Bradford-based manufacturing capabilities, engineering technology is at the forefront of this potential.”

To help meet the needs of Zippo, Case and other regional employers for additional engineering professionals, Pitt-Bradford developed two new engineering technology majors – mechanical engineering technology and energy engineering technology – that will be offered 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 may also develop as part of this ongoing collaboration.

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

Students in mechanical engineering technology will be able to design and build a prototype for an industrial process, then test the parts in strength of materials, fluid dynamics and electronics labs.

Energy engineering technology students will study geographical information systems, sensors and automation, energy efficiency, and renewable, alternative and conventional energy sources.

Graduates with engineering technology degrees will be prepared to apply for and perform the same jobs as those with engineering degrees since they will take similar classes in math and engineering. However, the teaching and learning in the engineering technology programs will be focused on practical applications.

The new four-year programs will provide enhanced opportunities in the way of lab and testing equipment to continue engineering students’ hands-on experience.

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.

About Zippo
One of the most recognized brands in the world, Zippo was founded in the fall of 1932 by George G. Blaisdell in Bradford, Pennsylvania, where it has manufactured over 600 million windproof lighters. With the exception of improvements to the flint wheel and an ever increasing number of decoration methods and finishes, the product retains its classic design and functionality and is backed by the company’s famous lifetime guarantee – “It works or we fix it free.™” Zippo’s diverse product line includes lighters and accessories; flexible butane and rechargeable candle lighters; and a robust line of heat and flame products for outdoor enthusiasts. Zippo markets in over 180 countries and owns Bradford-based W.R. Case and Sons Cutlery Company and the Ronson family of brands, as well as the Wellsville, NY based Northern Lights Candles, a leading designer of luxury candles and artisan accessories. For more information, visit

About Pitt-Bradford
Pitt-Bradford, one of five campuses of the University of Pittsburgh, was established in 1963 to fill a need to provide educational opportunities in the northcentral region of Pennsylvania. Since that time, more than 10,000 students have graduated from the university and have successful careers as health care professionals, educators, entrepreneurs, law enforcement officers, communicators, and business professionals. The 470-acre campus, home to a student-focused and vibrant learning community, offers more than 40 majors and more than 50 minors and pre-professional programs. Pitt-Bradford students come from nearly every county in Pennsylvania; more than 20 states; and several countries, including China, Nepal, the Philippines, Nigeria, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic and Pakistan. To learn more, visit