Remembering Dr. Robert G. "Bob" Cochran
Dr. Robert G. "Bob" Cochran was the founder of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University, a program that he led for over two decades. His vision, leadership and guidance were the primary motivators that have shaped the development of the Department and have determined what it is today. He came to College Station in 1959 and was instrumental in setting up the AGN-201 reactor facility, now located in the Zachry Engineering Center, and in constructing the Nuclear Science Center that houses the TRIGA-Mark II Reactor. He was Department Head for 22 years, and under Dr. Cochran's direction, many of the key areas that were established continue to be strengths at Texas A&M. These include reactor physics and analysis, reactor safety and thermal hydraulics, health physics, and computational methods. Over the years, these specialties have endured, and have become signature fields in nuclear engineering at Texas A&M.
Dr. Cochran was also responsible for another noteworthy characteristic of the program, and that was size. Very early on, the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University became well known as having the largest enrollment in the country. This is a distinction that continues to this day. Over the years, a very large number of Aggies went into every aspect of the nuclear industry. Many have risen into top management and leadership positions today and have had a major impact on the nuclear enterprise.
Dr. Cochran received his Baccalaureate and Master's degrees in physics from Indiana University and his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Pennsylvania State University. He served in the U. S. Navy. After stepping down as Department Head, he continued to be active professionally and in research. He was devoted to nuclear engineering at Texas A&M, and today, more than fifty years after his arrival, the Department bears the stamp of his efforts. According to Professor Emeritus Dr. Ron Hart, "Bob Cochran set an example as a true gentleman, a great teacher, and a helpful colleague." This sentiment would certainly be echoed by people throughout the department, and his passing is a great loss that will be felt by everyone.
Dr. Cochran was born July 12, 1919 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Lucien G. Cochran and Daisy H. Wachstetter. He died May 2, 2009 in Bryan, Texas. His funeral will be held on May 11, 2009 at the A&M Methodist church at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, donations to A&M United Methodist church would be appreciated (979/846-8731).
The department has created the Robert G. Cochran Memorial Scholarship in Nuclear Engineering in honor of Dr. Cochran's enormous contribution to Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M. For more information, see the flyer, the website, and the donation form.