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Glass Lab History

Harry Rubinstien, a chemistry graduate student, created the Chemistry Glass Lab in the 1950’s. The Glass Lab was created to provide consultation, fabrication, and repair of custom scientific glassware for research and instruction. In 1959 the Chemistry Department hired Rufus Dixon as it’s first fulltime Glassblower, the first Black professional at Purdue. Rufus also initiated a course in elementary techniques of scientific glassblowing, Chemistry 500. The Glass Lab has employed as many as three fulltime positions over the years and has evolved to be the only Glass Lab on campus serving the entire research and teaching community. Master Scientific Glassblower John Pirolo staffed the Glass Lab full-time from 1996 until 2008, with the help of apprentice Benjamin Revis. Professor Pirolo's Chemistry 500 course provided training and high interest to a diverse mix of students.

Over the years, the Glass Lab has been rewarded with continued growth from outside department users while maintaining it’s high standard of service for the Chemistry department. Our consultation remains a free service successfully providing many disciplines professional advice in establishing their glassware needs. We have also taught several students and staff in advanced glassblowing techniques, including lathe procedures and the use of cutting and polishing equipment.

The Glass Lab is currently staffed full-time by Jordan Smith, who brings more than 15 years experience in scientific glassblowing as well as artistic glassblowing.  You will find him quite personable and easy to work with. Please take a moment to stop in WTHR 427 and introduce yourself.  Requests for service can be submitted via the web requisition form.

Glass Blower at Work

Glass Lab