Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vincent N. Digiambattista Jan. 28, 1930 - Feb. 3, 2016 Business Owner, Inventor and Pioneer Metallurgist

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Vincent N. Digiambattista Jan. 28, 1930 - Feb. 3, 2016 Business Owner, Inventor and Pioneer Metallurgist

Article excerpt

As a boy, Vincent N. DiGiambattista always looked forward. When he read a comic book about traveling to the moon, his mother rejected the possibility.

"No, ma, we're going to the moon," he insisted.

As an entrepreneurial steelmaker, he challenged the financial odds. Although 1980 launched an especially bad decade for the U.S. steel industry, Mr. DiGiambattista founded a profitable specialty steel mill with four employees. A brilliant inventor and pioneer metallurgist, he started two companies and obtained 19 patents. He died of respiratory failure at age 86 on Feb. 3 at ManorCare Health Services in Green Tree.

Affable and focused on his work, Mr. DiGiambattista was fastidious in his dress and detail-oriented. He grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., where his father was a crane operator for Bethlehem Steel and his mother was a restaurant chef.

During the 1950s, he earned a degree in metallurgy from the State University of New York at Buffalo and developed an interest in powder metallurgy.

He came to Pittsburgh in 1957 to work for Westinghouse at its Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory, which played a role in developing the nuclear Navy. About three years later, he worked for Apollo Materials Equipment Corp. in Apollo. Then, he founded Penn Nuclear Corp. Based in Jeannette, the Westmoreland County company made fissionable material for nuclear reactor rods.

"His innovation was to produce that material in vacuum environments," said his son, James, of Honolulu. Penn Nuclear also made titanium rivets for the supersonic transport jet, a project funded by the U.S. government but later canceled.

From the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, he was director of research for Kelsey-Hayes, an auto parts manufacturer in Romulus, Mich.

"He knew that specialty steels was a big thing in Pittsburgh and returned here," James DiGiambattista said. …

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