Robert L. Firmin ’70
B.A., Denison University
M.A., University of Chicago
M.B.A., Columbia University
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Citation awarded May, 2015
Double majors in history and art history inspired Rob to try to save Earth from overpopulation. This windmill tilting led to his doctorate in demography and expertise in statistics and modeling. His focus settled on creation of art, research and products that he hopes might contribute to an intellectually, aesthetically, and physically healthier and more productive civilization.
Rob designed market research for IBM’s first PC years before its launch. He built Javelin Software Corporation around his modeling system concepts; it automatically monitors validity from multiple angles and won many awards in the U.S. and Europe before its acquisition. The World Bank modeled all world economies in Javelin. A software CEO wrote in 1993: “Rob is one of the few people in the software industry who can design a new product embodying truly new thinking.” InfoWorld named him a “personal computer visionary.” More inventions followed, including an early GPS cell phone for the elderly; a bicycle saddle that prevents nerve damage; and a polygraph unbiased against innocence. A swimmer’s device is in development.
Rob’s childhood fascination for history and figurative sculpture deepened at Denison, influencing him to compete full-time for monument commissions that raise consciousness of praiseworthy people and ideals. His collaborations with Eugene Daub include: Rosa Parks (U.S. Capitol National Statuary Hall); Abraham Lincoln as a Boy (near his birthplace); Thomas Jefferson, Father of the University of Virginia; Allegories of Civilization (Utah State Capitol rotunda); a two-acre sculpture park/monument to African American history (not yet funded); Salute to the U.S. Military (San Diego); and Julia Tuttle, Mother of Miami Florida. He has gone solo; works include two sculptures of California architect Julia Morgan and his award- winning design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, DC—a project embroiled in political-artistic controversy.
Peer-reviewed publications include several on predictive failure analysis in semiconductor manufacturing, project management optimization, software development risk quantification, and success/failure dimensions of on-line education.
Rob is happily married to education researcher Eva Schiorring. They live with their brilliant six-year old Juno, who happens to be a dog, in Kensington, Calif., where Rob is active in community programs, including wildfire suppression.