Elected in 1979
“For contributions in high temperature design, erosion, and brittle fracture of materials.”
BY ALICE M. AGOGINO, DAVID DORNFELD, AND C. D. (DAN) MOTE, JR.
IAIN FINNIE, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the world’s leading experts on the fracture of materials, died on December 19, 2009, from pneumonia and complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 81.
Finnie was a leading expert on engineering materials. The textbook he coauthored with William R. Heller, Creep of Engineering Materials (McGraw-Hill, 1959), is a classic.
“His pioneering work on erosion of materials has been emulated, but never equaled, by generations of subsequent researchers,” said Ian Hutchings, professor of manufacturing engineering at the University of Cambridge in England. “His early papers remain very highly cited.”
In the course of his 32-year career at UC Berkeley, Finnie mentored more than 40 doctoral students with whom he wrote more than 185 papers on fatigue of metals, crack propagation, and erosion of materials. He served as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 1979 to 1987. He held a strong record for recruiting some of UC Berkeley’s top talent and for encouraging underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in engineering. Many of the faculty members he hired have become university presidents, deans, and distinguished faculty worldwide. He remains beloved by all of them.