Dr. John Cochran Receives Walter Gilbert Award
Oct. 31, 2012
AUBURN -- Former Auburn football player Dr. John Cochran was presented the 2012 Walter Gilbert Award prior to the Tigers' game against Texas A&M at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday.
The Walter Gilbert Award is given annually to former Auburn athletes who have distinguished themselves through achievements after graduation from Auburn. The award is given in memory of the Tigers' three-time All-America center Walter Gilbert, who later became vice president of Texaco's European Oil Operations.
Cochran lettered at linebacker for Auburn from 1963-65. He was named to the Academic All-SEC team and the National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete team in 1965 when he had an A+ average in aerospace engineering. He also was awarded Auburn's Cliff Hare Award and the President's Award in 1965.
"I'm real fortunate to receive the award," Cochran said. "You have a lot of people who received it that are extremely successful, and there are a lot of other folks out there that I know that if they'd been nominated, I might not have. It is a tremendous honor."
A native of Crossville, Ala., Cochran graduated from Auburn in 1966 with a degree in aerospace engineering and stayed at Auburn to get his master's in 1967. He began looking at fellowships to pursue a doctorate, and in 1970, Cochran received a Ph.D., also in aerospace engineering, from the University of Texas at Austin. He also received his J.D. in Law from the Jones Law School in 1976.
After spending more than two decades as a professor at Auburn and performing research in his field, Cochran was named head of Auburn's Department of Aerospace Engineering, a position he still holds today.
Col. Jim Voss (Auburn '72) is a retired NASA Astronaut, one of Cochran's former students, and a fellow Walter Gilbert Award winner. With almost 20 years of service as professor and head, Cochran says he is still motivated by students like Voss who want to develop their interests in science and technology the way Cochran did more than 40 years ago.
"I'd say teaching the students and working with the graduate students, helping them with their research, is very satisfying" Cochran said. "They write their thesis and dissertations and then some of them have gone on to be professors at other places and things like that."
Cochran's tenure of teaching and research has been concerned with a range of topics in the areas of astrodynamics, guidance, dynamics, control, and stability of motion. He has taught numerous courses, including basic and advanced astrodynamics, aircraft stability and control, dynamics of flight, aircraft structures, optimal control, spacecraft attitude dynamics and control, and engineering law and ethics.
The author or co-author of more than 150 technical papers and reports, many of his journal publications have dealt with spacecraft attitude dynamics and control. Working with graduate students, Dr. Cochran has also developed simulations of aerospace systems including towed maneuverable atmospheric flight vehicles, missile launchers, and tethered satellites.
As a consultant to engineering firms and corporations, Dr. Cochran has provided technical advice in the areas of dynamics and guidance and control of airplanes, missiles, fixed-wing and helicopters and spacecraft.
He has consulted with law firms on product liability cases and the Department of Justice on intellectual property issues. In addition, he has presented seminars to engineers on legal topics such as contracts, products liability, professional liability, and environmental law.
Cochran was joined by his wife, Carol, and sons, Chris and Jonathan, in receiving the award.
Cochran is the 32nd recipient of the Walter Gilbert Award.
Walter Gilbert Award Recipients:
Year Athlete Sport 1981 Joe Stewart Football 1982 Thomas K. McGehee Football 1983 Joel Eaves Football 1984 Dr. David Middleton Football 1985 William A. Fickling, Jr. Basketball 1986 Ted Fereira Football 1987 John Adcock Football 1988 Bill Nichols Football 1989 C.H. "Babe" McGehee Football 1990 Billy Hitchcock Baseball, Football 1991 Vince Dooley Football, Basketball 1992 Jeff Beard Track 1993 Morris Savage Football 1994 Ed Dyas Football 1995 Lloyd Nix Football 1996 Richard Guthrie Football, Track 1997 Jim Voss Wrestling 1998 Ernie Warren Football 1999 Dr. James E. Martin Basketball 2000 John Mengelt Basketball 2001 Hal Herring Football 2002 Jim Fibbe Basketball 2003 Mac Crawford Football 2004 Charles Carlan Baseball 2005 David Marsh Swimming 2006 R. Kenneth Johns Football 2007 D. Gaines Lanier Football 2008 Pat Sullivan Football 2009 Ray Groover Basketball 2010 Ken Rice Football 2011 Read Montague Track & Field 2012 Dr. John Cochran Football
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