Peter C. Rossin is best remembered for his generous contributions to his community, but his engineering aptitude and talent for business enabled him to become one of Lehigh's most successful alumni. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush named Rossin "Small Businessperson of the Year" for Western Pennsylvania.
Born in 1923, Rossin served as a pilot in the US Air Force during WWII. He married his wife Ada following the war in 1946. His education at Lehigh was interrupted by his time in the service, but he still managed to involve himself in his social fraternity, Theta Delta Chi, and was a scholarly student. In 1948, he graduated at the top of his class with a B.S. in metallurgical engineering. Instead of accepting an offer for a spot in Bethlehem Steel's prestigious Executive Loop Course, which admitted only two newly graduated Lehigh alumni a year and ensured a fast track to a corporate executive position, Rossin's aspirations directed him toward graduate school. He received his M.S. in metallurgical engineering from Yale a few years later and enrolled in classes at Rensselaer Polytechnic University in pursuit of his doctorate.
In 1951, Rossin joined General Electric Company in Schenectady, NY. His background in metals production helped him acquire a position conducting research and development of vacuum melting processes for nickel-based alloys and refractory metals. He took jobs as an executive with three other metal processing companies, Cyclops Corp, Crucible Steel, and Fansteel Metallurgical Corp, before starting his own in 1967.
Dynamet, Inc of Washington, Pennsylvania solidified Rossin's legacy as a successful engineer, businessman, and entrepreneur. As founder and president, he molded Dynamet into a leading manufacturer of titanium and nickel-based alloy products. Their major clients include companies from the aerospace, chemical, medical, and motor sports product industries. Rossin received the Medal for the Advancement of Research in 1994 from ASM International (American Society for Metals) for his research in metal deformation processes, powder metallurgy, and unique metal applications. In 1997, he sold Dynamet, which employed over 400 people at five separate sites, to Carpenter Technology Corporation for a reported $150 million.
Legacy at Lehigh
Rossin and his wife donated $25 million of their fortune to Lehigh's engineering college in 1998, the largest single donation in university history. For their generosity, the college was renamed the Peter C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. Over the next three years, they gave an additional $2.5 million to the school. The college was able to hire thirty new faculty members, initiate bioengineering and environmental engineering programs, a graduate studies program in optical technology, and an engineering minor for undergrads. Twelve graduate students received Rossin fellowships, six assistant professorships were appointed and two senior professorships were granted.
Rossin was a frequent campus visitor and was very involved with ensuring the effectiveness of his donation. In 1998, he was given an honorary membership to Lehigh's Board of Trustees and the following year he was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering. He was also the first recipient of the Lehigh Engineering Ingenuity Award. Rossin died on August 10, 2003 in Sewickley, Pennsylvania at the age of 79. He and his wife Ada had two children: a son, Pete Jr. '71, and a daughter, Joan Stephans.