Designer, Author, Entrepreneur
Class of 1976
Brian Michael Finn grew up in Sycamore, IL, and graduated from Sycamore High School in 1985. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics in 1990 and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1992 from Northern Illinois University.
Brian worked at Fermi National Accelerator Lab during the summer of 1991. He was employed by Nelson Industries of Stoughton, WI, from 1992-2001, in addition to founding Digisonix with co-workers from Nelson; and was instrumental in creating a simplified communication system in vehicles, for which he earned his first patent. He moved in 2001 to California, where he was employed by Volkswagen of America, managing a large team in the Electronics Research Lab, working on active noise control, voice enhancement and navigation systems in automobiles. He joined Tesla Motors Co. in July 2008 as a senior manager in Interactive Electronics. Brian was an innovator and was prolific at generating ideas. Through the years, he was credited with many patents and was considered one of the top inventors in the world in the field of user interfaces. Brian was involved in developing, with his team, the Infotainment System in the new, all electric Model S Tesla Sedan. As a corporate representative, Brian mentored young engineers from Stanford University and San Jose State. He was a member of IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the AES – Audio Engineering Society and Eta Kappa Nu, National Electrical and Computer Engineering Honor Society.
A unique young man, Brian was incredibly generous and kind, and humble about his contributions to his field. In addition to being skilled in technological advances, he was a gifted musician and a man of the soil. He also enjoyed planting trees and tending an organic garden on his country land, where he hoped someday to develop and retire on. A highlight of each summer was to be with his brothers and friends canoeing down the Wisconsin River. A dedicated and disciplined athlete; he was an expert skier, biker, hiker, scuba diver, motorcyclist and runner.
Brian’s greatest love was his two-year-old daughter, Erin SiLei Finn; it was a pleasure to observe him caring for her in his nurturing, gentle way.
Brian Finn passed away in 2010 as a result of a plane crash.