The Vaughn College community is saddened to announce the death of former Board of Trustees Chair Robert Zincone, who died Saturday, March 31 in Westport, Connecticut. Mr. Zincone, who remained a member of the College’s board until his passing, was a 1955 graduate of the Academy of Aeronautics, the name of the institution until the mid-1980s. He went on to become president of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, one of the leading manufacturers of helicopters worldwide, and senior vice president of its parent company United Technologies Corporation.
Mr. Zincone, 78, later received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Bridgeport and a master’s degree in engineering mechanics from Columbia University. He was an Air Force veteran, a fellow at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and past chairman of the American Helicopter Association.
Considered one of the fathers of the Black Hawk helicopter, Mr. Zincone began a 37-year Sikorsky career in 1955 as an engineering trainee. He became program manager for the company’s Black Hawk and S-76 helicopter projects, then senior vice president for research and engineering, executive vice president and ultimately president in 1984.
He joined the board of the College of Aeronautics in 1988 and served as chair from 1999 to 2002. Under his leadership, the College conducted its first institution-wide strategic planning initiative, which became the foundation for much of Vaughn’s recent success, including the addition of the first residence hall, a bachelor of science in engineering and a graduate degree in management. The investments made in the institution’s campus infrastructure, programs and faculty have led to a more than 60 percent increase in enrollment over the last four years.
While at Sikorsky, Mr. Zincone received the United Technologies’ George Mead Award for his development of titanium rotor blade technology. Later in his life, he became an aerospace technology consultant and chief technology officer for an innovative solar energy distributor, SunPort Industries.
Mr. Zincone and his wife, Irene, who survives him, endowed the Robert and Irene Zincone Scholarship in 2003. The award is given annually to an entering freshman who demonstrates academic success, community service and financial need. In recognition of his tireless efforts on behalf of his alma mater, Mr. Zincone received an honorary doctorate from Vaughn in 2007.
“Robert Zincone was a leader, industry visionary and true friend to the academic institution where he attended as a student and served throughout his lifetime,” Vaughn President Dr. John C. Fitzpatrick said. “Bob was fond of reminding students that lifelong learning was an essential aspect to his long-term career success. His insights as an alumnus and successful businessman were invaluable in helping lead this institution through remarkable transformation.”
“Bob Zincone was not only a graduate of the College, but he and Irene have been very generous to Vaughn through their dedicated leadership roles and their efforts to help our students pursue their dream of a college degree,” noted current Board Chair Thomas McKee. “He will be missed but not forgotten.”