Robert J. McKaywas born in Washington County, New York in 1887. He received his B.A. degree from Butler College in 1910. While at Butler he was assistant to Dr. R. B. Moore who was beginning his work on radioactivity and atomic fission. In 1913 he received a B.S degree in physical chemistry from the University of California where he was an instructor. After early work at western smelters, he joined the International Nickel Company in 1916. Following experimental work which led to the use of pH control on nickel refining, he did work at Mellon Institute on corrosion of nickel alloys for the International Nickel Company. Later, as the company's Superintendent of Technical Service, he became active in the development of new products such as nickel clad steel and the alloy Inconel. Inconel found an immediate use in jet and other high temperature engines. He published the first paper describing the properties if Inconel. In 1938, McKay became Chemical Engineer in charge of Plating Sales and Development. He established new industrial uses for nickel involving corrosion and heat resistance, and improved mechanical properties.
McKay published more than forty papers on the corrosion properties of nickel alloys. Many appeared in the Transactions of the Society. He co-authored the American Chemical Society Monograph on "Corrosion Resistance of Metals and Alloys".
McKay served as Chairman of the New York Section and Chairman of the Corrosion Division. He was elected Vice-President of the Society in 1950 and President in 1953. He favored the policy of improving the Journal and an advertising program to support.