David Allen Cook Headshot

Lufkin, Texas   We were saddened to learn of the passing of longtime ABET Program Evaluator and Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) member David Allen Cook, Ph.D., on May 28, 2020.

Cook served as an ABET Program Evaluator since 1998, and a Team Chair since 2007. In his 22 years of service, he participated in 21 accreditation visits as a PEV, Report Team Chair and Visit Team Chair, including international visits to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Cook earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Central Florida, his master’s degree in teleprocessing from University of Southern Mississippi and his doctorate in computer science from Texas A&M University-College Station.

After earning his master’s, Cook joined the U.S. Air Force, where he honed his teaching skills as a technical instructor at Keesler Air Force Base, an associate professor of computer science and department research director at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and deputy department head of the Software Professional Development Program at the Air Force Institute of Technology. He retired after 21 years of service but continued to use his expertise as a consultant for Draper Laboratory and later as a senior research scientist at Aegis Technologies. In 2009, he joined the faculty at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he taught computer science and software engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Throughout his impressive career, Cook maintained his passion for education. This July would be the last year of his second five-year term as a commissioner on the CAC. We are very grateful for the dedication and time he gave to ABET, and he will be missed. Here are a few reflections from those who had the privilege of working with Cook over the years:

“My first memory of Cookie was when he interviewed me for a faculty position at the Air Force Academy back in 1989. He was on the selection committee and I got the job, so I’m very grateful to him!

“I didn’t interact much with Cookie for the next 20 years until we linked up again through ABET’s CAC. For many years, we would have dinner together one evening during the commission meetings. It was always a very fun evening and we always joked about paying for each other’s meal.

“What I remember most fondly about Cookie was his incredible sense of humor. As he struggled with very challenging health issues that continued to worsen until the end, he never lost his sense of humor! In fact, just a week before he passed away, he joked with me about training to run a marathon next year — and he was never the running type!”

– David “Hoot” Gibson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Computer and Cyber Sciences, United States Air Force Academy

Photo courtesy of David “Hoot” Gibson.

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“As the chair of the Department of Computer Science at Stephen F. Austin State University, I was glad to welcome Dave Cook to our faculty in 2009. His expertise in software engineering and his familiarity with ABET procedures made him a key member of our staff. Our faculty heavily relied on his advice to guide us through our department’s accreditation activities. Blessed with an optimistic, outgoing personality and a wonderful sense of humor, in addition to having a great deal of real-world software engineering experience, he quickly endeared himself to our students. He genuinely cared for individual students and was concerned, not only that they succeed academically, but that they would prosper after graduation. On a personal level, he became a good friend whose wise advice I valued and whose Christian principles I admired. Rest in peace, David.” 

– Mike Pickard, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, Stephen F. Austin State University

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Cook standing in Loch Ness
Cook standing in Loch Ness. Photo courtesy of Drew Hamilton.

“Captain Dave Cook came from the USAFA faculty to be a guest lecturer at the Army Computer Science School. The school commandant, a full colonel, decided to personally welcome Cookie before he gave his lecture to approximately 100 Army captains, majors and lieutenant colonels. I walked into the classroom first and called the room to attention. Cookies first words were: ‘You Army guys are so military.’ The colonel dryly commented that the room came to attention for him, not Cookie. I will miss Dave.”

– Drew Hamilton, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Center for Cyber Innovation, Mississippi State University

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“Even as Dave’s illness progressed and limited his mobility, he continued to serve CAC as a Team Chair and would not dream of missing a summer commission meeting or the opportunity to go on a visit each year. He continued to provide service to the professional community with a positive attitude and wonderful sense of humor. His wit and positivity will be sorely missed in CAC.”

– Donna Reese, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Mississippi State University

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“Dave exuded all the great qualities that we look for in dedicated volunteer experts. I met Dave in 1983 when we were both at the US Air Force Officer Training School (OTS). He was in my squadron and served as my class’ flight leader. Despite the intense and exhausting nature of OTS, I have some great memories of that time, many of them thanks to Dave. He served as a role model and provided a great example for the rest of us to follow.

“A few years after OTS, we crossed paths again at the U.S. Air Force Academy where we both served on the faculty in the early 90s. He had developed his expertise and became prominent in the USAF computing and software engineering community, so I continued following his publications even after I left USAFA.

“I was pleasantly surprised to run into him at our July Commission Meetings a few years ago. He still impressed me with his expertise, exemplary leadership skills, passion for teaching and improving higher education.

“I remember from my OTS days that he stood out as a strong leader with all the qualities the Air Force wants in future officers — the same qualities that made him such a wonderful addition to ABET.”

– Michael K. J. Milligan, Ph.D., PE, CAE, Executive Director and CEO, ABET

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Photo courtesy of Lawrence G. Jones.

“I’m sure everyone who knew and loved “Cookie” saw the same core trait: a sense of humor and whimsy no matter what life was throwing at him. Even as he became more restricted physically, there was the same Cookie — always able to find the humor in any situation. It was a great joy and privilege to count him as a friend and colleague.”

– Lawrence G. Jones, Ph.D., F.ABET, F.CSAB, 2015-16 ABET President, 2018 Recipient of ABET Linton E. Grinter Distinguished Service Award, Former Distinguished Principal Researcher, Carnegie Mellon University

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Photy courtesy of Lawrence G. Jones.

“In terms of fond memories of Cookie, the ferret story sticks out. As I recall, he came to work one day with a bandage on his lip. When pressed as to what happened, he confessed that he was ‘snuggling’ with his pet ferret when it bit him on the lip. The incident was too good to not be noted at his going away. An appropriately lampooned skit showed a Cookie portrayer making kissing noises and loving coos to a length of fur, playing the role of the ferret. Suddenly, he screams and starts thrashing around tightly holding the ‘ferret’ to his mouth. It was very funny (as are all our skits, of course). Cookie loved it.

“Cookie was a unique individual. His good humor, constant smiles and easy-going style masked an incredible intellect, and an exceptionally caring educator. You cannot find anyone who knew him that doesn’t smile at the mention of his name and can recount some humorous time or story surrounding him. His passing is a loss for the profession and for his many friends. He brightened a lot of lives, including mine.”

Dennis Dino Lee Schweitzer, Ph.D., Former Head of the Computer Science Department, USAF Academy; Former Director, Academy Center for Cyberspace Research; 2007-2011 ABET CAC Commissioner

To express condolences and send flowers, please visit the Dignity Memorial site.