The man behind the glass
With an air tube in his mouth and a torch spitting out 12 inches of flames, Scott Bankroff manipulates a simple piece of glass into a fully functional scientific instrument.
As MSU’s scientific glassblower, Bankroff is responsible for producing a majority of the specialized glassware used in research labs across campus.
But acquiring the title of Ingham County’s one and only scientific glassblower was hardly his dream when he was looking for a career 37 years ago.
“Honestly, I needed a job,” Bankroff said.
Glass blowing, which he considered a last-ditch effort to make money, led Bankroff to MSU’s glassblowing facility, based in the Chemistry Building.
Now, he takes pride that his products are used for education and scientific research.
Bankroff said scientific glassblowing is worlds apart from glassblowing in the traditional sense — artists creating colorful works with artistic flare.
“It’s not as sexy as the people working out of the furnaces whipping the glass around and all the colors,” Bankroff said, adding he still respects those artists.
Using a torch that can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees, he forms extremely precise glassware used in MSU’s science departments, such as chemistry and zoology, which makes him proud.
“It’s not always pretty, but it is functional,” he said. “It does not sit on a shelf and collect dust.”