Christopher Cook

Emeritus Professor

Citation delivered by Professor Valerie Linton Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Christopher David Cook as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 25 July 2019 

Deputy Chancellor, I present Christopher Cook. 

During his 35 years at UOW, Professor Cook has been an exceptional collaborator, innovator, researcher, teacher and colleague. His leadership has left a substantial and enduring legacy on this University and on our community. Today we celebrate his inspirational leadership, his contribution to the field of electrical and manufacturing engineering and indeed, the impact he has had on the growth and reputation of this institution from its inception to today. 

After gaining his PhD in Electrical (Power) Engineering in 1976, Chris held a number of ‘high tech’ engineering positions with Marconi Avionics and the General Electric Company. Chris joined the University in 1982. Then seven years young, this University was a small regional institution and Chris was to play a significant role in its growth and reputation. Since his appointment as Head of School in 1989 Chris continued to hold senior leadership positions, notably spending an unprecedented 17 years as leading the Faculty of Engineering through its many incarnations. As Dean Chris facilitated the development and growth of the Faculty, which is now recognised both nationally and internationally as a leader in industrial interactions with extensive research and industry collaborators. Under his leadership research teams across all EIS discipline areas flourished, maintaining and growing their national and international prominence. Today, despite its relatively small size, EIS receives substantial research funding from both the Australian Research Council and industry sources. 

One of Chris’s many strengths was that he led from the front and maintained strong research outputs throughout his time at UOW. As Managing Director of the Automation and Engineering Applications Centre in the 1980s, Chris was instrumental in establishing industrial robotics at UOW and in gaining the largest robotics and automation grant ever awarded to an Australian university at the time. More recently, just in the last ten years, Chris was successful in receiving in excess of twenty national competitive grants totaling almost $10 million. He has published multiple journal articles, and has been involved in contract research worth close to $8 million. He remains, even in retirement, very active in mentoring young researchers, and maintaining existing links as well as developing new links with major industry partners. 

Throughout his academic career, Chris maintained a strong commitment to high quality and practical learning and teaching. Consequently, EIS graduates have one of the highest full-time employment rates in the country. In his own words, one of Chris’s most significant achievements is ‘growing the quality and quantity of outstanding UOW graduates who are influencing the world for good’. 

Chris’s commitment to his staff was outstanding: he created an atmosphere, which values everyone’s contribution to the success of the Faculty and of UOW. He was instrumental in developing and nurturing the careers of staff and students alike, contributed to the improvement of infrastructure to support excellent teaching and research and, most importantly, created a cohesive team that is free to innovate, transform and propel this University into a successful future. 

Chris’s impact on UOW has been significant, but UOW has also influenced Chris’s own life. Along with his wife, Dianne, a tutor at Wollongong University College, Chris built a happy family life in Wollongong with his three daughters Bethany, Rhiannon and Philippa. Personally, mentors Ken McKinnon and Gerard Sutton inspired his passion for this University and imbued in him the importance of empathy and teamwork. 

Deputy Chancellor, for his distinguished contributions to the field of Engineering, and for his exceptional leadership and dedication to the University of Wollongong and its teaching and research community, it is a pleasure and privilege to present Christopher Cook for admission as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.