2022 2022: New scholarship preserves the values of retired Chancellor Professor Ron DiPippo
New scholarship preserves the values of retired Chancellor Professor Ron DiPippo

Mechanical engineering alumni establish scholarship honoring their influential professor

UMassD Chancellor Professor Ron DiPippo

For 37 years, aspiring mechanical engineering students set out to conquer Dr. Ron DiPippo’s demanding thermodynamics courses, studying harder than they ever had before. “Work hard, then work harder” was the mantra in Dr. DiPippo’s classroom. After surviving the grueling courses and exams that tested their engineering knowledge, each student graduated from UMass Dartmouth with the fundamental skills that would lay the foundations of their engineering careers—and the confidence to succeed in a competitive industry.

Inspired by Dr. DiPippo’s impact on their educations and careers, a group of mechanical engineering alumni collaborated to establish the Chancellor Professor Ron DiPippo Scholarship Fund for mechanical engineering students. The committee of John Berg ’82, Bill Catlow ’69, Donald Foster ’72, John Guarino ’95, Gene Potkay ’73, Scott Tingle ’87, and Jim Zisson ’82 sought to honor their professor and mentor by providing financial support to current mechanical engineering students at UMass Dartmouth.

“I gained a deep understanding of thermodynamics and energy systems, but perhaps more importantly, he taught me how to think critically, pay attention to details, and to work hard and apply engineering rigor,” said John Guarino ’95, executive director of the mechanical products team at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.

Ron DiPippo is a retired Chancellor Professor of mechanical engineering and former associate dean of the College of Engineering at UMassD, known for teaching some of the most challenging courses in the mechanical engineering program from 1967 until his retirement in 2004. Prior to joining the faculty at UMassD, DiPippo was a mechanical engineer at the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI, where his work focused on the thermodynamic analysis of compact propulsion systems for underwater applications and fluid flow phenomena. However, DiPippo's professional and research work in geothermal energy was influential in both the academe and countries and states that have been geothermally active. 

Alumni of DiPippo’s mechanical engineering courses look back fondly at their time in his classroom and value the impact he had on their academic and professional successes. By introducing them to the level of precision, rigor, critical thinking required, and emphasizing the mastery of fundamental skills necessary to become successful engineers, DiPippo played a significant role in his students’ academic and professional experiences.

“Dr. DiPippo is the most influential mentor in my life, and he is at the core of every success that I have achieved,” said Scott Tingle ’87, U.S. Navy Captain (retired). “He is the reason behind my deep interest and capabilities in engineering, science, math, and technology.”

Jim Zisson ’82, a Rotorcraft and Turboprop helicopter engineer at General Electric, recalls DiPippo’s influence on his career track. “He inspired a life-long interest in energy-efficient power generation and some 40 years later, I still work in the field of designing and building the world’s most efficient jet engines.”

“One of the greatest lessons Ron taught me was that dedication and perseverance is more important than raw intelligence,” said Gene Potkay ’73, who is a retired senior vice president of intellectual property for Nielsen.

Students were held to high standards in DiPippo’s courses, but the challenge of meeting those expectations quickly turned to admiration for his professionalism and style. “Ron was respected as a role model of technical professionalism, elegance, accomplishments, and social graces for young engineers,” said Don Foster ’72, mechanical engineering instructor and lab manager, who later became a colleague of DiPippo’s at UMassD. Foster also credits him with influencing his teaching style by approaching curriculum in sequential structured approach.

Establishing a scholarship in DiPippo’s honor was a fitting way to show gratitude for his influence, while providing financial support for current students. The Ron DiPippo Scholarship Fund will be awarded to a mechanical engineering student with demonstrated financial need and an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. 

After providing him an academic reference that sealed his entry into MIT’s graduate program, John Berg ’85 is grateful for how DiPippo helped shape his career. “I can’t forget what a difference Dr. DiPippo made to me at a critical time. This scholarship is a way to honor him and pay it forward. I am pleased and honored to have this opportunity.” Berg is now CEO of Carpe Diem Technologies, Inc., a leading developer of innovative laboratory and production solutions.

“I hope this scholarship will continue to preserve the values that Dr. DiPippo and UMassD embody,” said Guarino. “Technology will continue to evolve, but engineering fundamentals, hard work, commitment, and attention to detail will remain critical skills for all successful engineering professionals.”

“I owe much to the education and subsequent career opportunities that UMassD afforded me,” said Potkay. “I hope this scholarship will provide access for students to an academic program they might not otherwise have.”

Tingle is proud to extend the opportunities to acquire a foundationally sound engineering education to future engineers: “UMassD has a long history of creating engineers with hard-charging motivation and in-depth understanding of engineering fundamentals. This scholarship will help us make more of them.”

To support mechanical engineering students at UMass Dartmouth through the Chancellor Professor Ron DiPippo Scholarship Fund, you may make a gift online here.