Distinguished Alumni Awards

Robert E. Finnigan

Robert E.  Finnigan
To Robert E. Finnigan, author, teacher, research scientist, engineer and corporate founder, for his innovative development of a worldwide-adopted commercial quadrupole system and for directing a fast-growing corporation with offices throughout the United States and Europe.

Executive Vice President and Director, Finnigan Corporation, Sunnyvale, California

  • MS, Electrical Engineering, 1954
  • PhD, Electrical Engineering, 1957

Dr. Finnigan received his bachelor's degree from the U.S. Naval Academy before coming to Illinois for graduate study. After graduation, he taught at the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology before being assigned to the University of California Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, where he led the development and construction of advanced control/instrumentation systems for nuclear ramjet reactors. In 1963, after a year with Stanford Research Institute, Dr. Finnigan founded the Scientific Instruments Division for Electronic Associates, Inc., and led the team that produced the world's first commercial quadrupole mass spectrometer in 1964.

In 1967, Dr. Finnigan and several co-workers founded Finnigan Instruments Corporation. This firm has pioneered the application of the quadrupole mass spectrometer used together with a gas chromatograph and a computer system for detection and identification of trace quantities of organic compounds in various chemical applications. The company's GC/MS/computer systems are in most major universities in the U.S. and Europe, and are the standard instrument in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water quality laboratories. Dr. Finnigan currently directs the market development and research activities of the firm.

Current as of 1980.