Sesek named Tim Cook Professor

Published: Oct 9, 2015 3:00:00 PM
Media Contact: Gail Riese,, 334-844-3447

richard sesek
Richard Sesek

Richard Sesek has been named the Tim Cook Professor in Auburn University’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, where he has been a faculty member since 2009.

Sesek earned bachelor’s degrees in general engineering and engineering psychology and a master’s degree in general engineering, all from the University of Illinois. He also earned a master’s degree in public health and a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Utah.

“We are extremely grateful for the generosity of our distinguished alumnus Tim Cook and his dedication to the College of Engineering,” said Christopher B. Roberts, dean of engineering. “This endowment will help support the remarkable work of Richard Sesek, a talented educator who demonstrates a profound commitment to students through high quality instruction, service and mentoring.”

Sesek has 25 years of experience as a safety engineer and ergonomist. He is the director of the Occupational Safety and Ergonomics program within the Deep South Center for Occupational Health and Safety, a Health Education and Research Center supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety. A certified safety professional and certified professional ergonomist, Sesek’s research interests include industrial ergonomics; human factors and engineering psychology; safety engineering; biomechanics; ergonomic modeling and ergonomic survey tools; and occupational safety and health standards and compliance.

During his tenure, he has served as a doctoral degree committee member for 17 students, chairing five of the committees. He has also served as a member of more than 80 master’s degree committees, chairing 27 of them. He has educated future safety professionals through several experiential learning activities and advised numerous student organizations. In addition, he has instructed and developed occupational safety, health and ergonomics courses.

Among the honors Sesek has received are the Graduate Mentor Award from the Auburn University Graduate Student Council in 2015 and the Dr. William E. Tarrants Outstanding Safety Educator Award from the American Society of Safety Engineers in 2013.

Cook, the namesake of the professorship, graduated from Auburn in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and also earned a master’s of business administration from Duke University. He is the CEO of Apple Inc., and serves on its board of directors.

Cook is the founding chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering’s Alumni Council.  He established the ISE Endowed Fund for Excellence, the Tim Cook Leadership Scholarship and the Tim Cook Endowed Professorship. He was also selected as a Distinguished Auburn Engineer and Outstanding ISE Alumnus. Cook was awarded the Auburn University Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2014. He has also received the Auburn University College of Human Sciences’ International Quality of Life Award, and has been named to the Alabama Academy of Honor and the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.

Cook is a member of the university’s 1856, Petrie and Foy societies, a lifetime member of the Auburn Alumni Association and a member of the College of Engineering’s Ginn and Eagles societies.