Glen Oaks Community College (GOCC) will say goodbye to one of its early faculty members at the May 4 graduation. James Cook, professor of drafting and design/CAD, will retire after 35 years. Cook has kept up with changes in a profession that went from drafting tables and slide rulers to computer software capable of designing complete products and their parts. Cook introduced solid modeling with AutoCad and Inventor in recent years.
Hundreds of students have taken Cook’s computer aided design and manufacturing classes, technical math and geometric dimensioning and tolerance classes on the way to an Associate of Applied Science in Technology Degree or Drafting/Design Certificate at GOCC. Many area company employees also know Cook for his past instruction through the Glen Oaks Business Services office, with classes administered at American Axle and Manufacturing and 49 other companies.
Professor Cook, of Sturgis, Mich., earned an Associate degree and Bachelor of Science degree at Ferris State University, followed by a Master’s degree in Industrial Technology at Indiana State University. Cook regularly attended industry education courses, served as a consultant and instructor to industry, held membership in the American Society for Quality Control, and was nominated several times for “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.”
Cook and his wife Anne, who also taught mathematics classes at Glen Oaks, plan to visit members of their large family. Besides their own six children, the Cooks have been a foster family for more than 70 children over 40 years. The retired professor also serves as a volunteer with the Sturgis Police. In 2009, Cook received the Sturgis Exchange Club’s Salute to Volunteerism Award and also the President’s Volunteer Service Award signed by George W. Bush.
His woodworking skills range from refinishing the handrails on the college’s stairways to unique woodcrafts that win annual awards at the St. Joseph County Grange Fair.
Professor Cook said he will miss teaching, but also is thankful for all the graduates he assisted in careers in industry and manufacturing. Former students now work in fields ranging from modular home design to automotive parts manufacturing.