The Robert Mueller-Thuns Lectureship in Computer Science was established at the University of Illinois through memorial gifts by his wife, Nikki Mueller-Thuns Mirghafori (BS '91), family, friends, and colleagues.
Robert was born in Bonn, Germany and did his undergraduate work at the Technical University of Aachen, Germany. He attended University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1986 to 1990, where he received both his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science. While in graduate school, he held internships at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, followed by positions at Cadence Design Systems and TCSI Corporation post-graduation. At the time of his untimely death at the age of 37, he was a Software Architect at Evolve Corporation, a start-up in San Francisco, CA. His areas of expertise were computer-aided design for VLSI, simulation, testing, parallel processing, formal design verification, as well as object oriented analysis and design, and pattern languages.
Robert was a remarkable human being: a gentle spirit with an insatiable intellectual curiosity and zest for life. Aside from being a researcher and computer scientist, he was a musician, an athlete, and a writer. He had a passion for thinking, ideas, and learning, as well as for living life through friendship, music, food, and travel. Even as he battled cancer, he never lost his optimism, sense of humor, and vitality. In the words of Paul Chen (PhD'93), a close friend: "Robert was known by his Illini friends as The Uberman, partly because of his German ethnicity, and partly because he was an amazing individual—someone whom we respected and admired for his ability to achieve excellence in all that he did. He had a passion for living. And he excelled in life: the Uberman could out-almost-anything us, all the while smiling effortlessly and encouragingly at us lesser mortals."
Robert thrived and made life-long friends at Illinois and it is hoped that the Mueller-Thuns Lectureship in Computer Science will give the chance to others at Illinois to think more, learn more, and do more as an appropriate memorial to a man whose intellectual intensity, integrity, and vibrancy made him an inspiration to all who knew him.
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Media inquiries may be directed to:
Director of Advancement
mwellens [at] illinois [dot] edu