Distinguished Alumni Awards

Robert L. Hirsch

Robert L. Hirsch
To Robert L. Hirsch, engineer, past administrator of government research and development programs, and present industrial executive, for providing, for innovative management of industrial research programs, and for his public service activities related to energy research and development.

Vice President and Manager, Exploration and Production Research Department, ARCO Oil and Gas Company, Dallas, Texas

  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, 1958
  • MS, 1959, University of Michigan
  • PhD, Nuclear Engineering, 1964

Dr. Hirsch began his career with the Atomics International Division of North American Aviation. His interest in fusion research led him to further study at UIUC, from which he received the University’s first PhD in nuclear engineering. He joined the Atomic Energy Commission in 1968, and after holding several other government positions, he was appointed assistant administrator for solar, geothermal, and advanced energy systems of the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration in 1975. His accomplishments in these positions range from his co-invention of the “flashlight cell” thermionic conversion reactor to building and operation of the first variable-spaced thermionic diode to his redirection of nuclear fusion programs with the goal of an operating fusion demonstration rector by the year 2000. In 1977 he joined the Exxon Corporation where among his many accomplishments are the development of a new proprietary shale retorting process and a new proprietary catalyst for direct coal liquefaction. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has been active in the American Nuclear Society, and is on the Board of Directors of Fusion Power Associates.

Current as of 1984.