Story: Lisa Sollie

At the University of West Alabama, Donnie Cobb and technology education are so intertwined that it is impossible not to mention both in the same breath. Cobb is retiring as chair of the Division of Engineering and Technology at UWA, after more than three decades at his alma mater. UWA President Ken Tucker awarded Cobb’s Professor Emeritus honors at this spring’s Distinguished Service Awards for faculty and staff.

A native of Linden, Alabama, Cobb began his full-time teaching career at UWA in 1991. A recipient of the 2015 Loraine McIlwain Bell Trustee Professor Award, Cobb was instrumental in developing the Division of Engineering and Technology and creating bachelor degrees in engineering technology, computer engineering technology, and two new degrees, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering technology. He also significantly developed the Associate of Applied Science degree in Automotive Engineering Technology and a welding certificate program. In the early ‘90’s Cobb also worked with UWA’s IT department to install the University’s first Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) server, allowing multiple hard drives to act as one which helped pave the way for a robust data management infrastructure.

Known throughout the state for forging strong industry partnerships, Cobb is proud to have played an integral role in educating numerous young men and women in Engineering and Technology to prepare them for the workforce. “I hope I have positively influenced them so they will want to contribute to their community and society,” he noted.

Before joining the faculty at UWA, Cobb worked for six years at Gulf States Paper Company (now WestRock). A full professor at the University, he holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial technology and a master’s degree (concentration in industrial technology) from the University of West Alabama. He also earned a Ph.D. in workforce development from Mississippi State University with a concentration in computer networking and school administration.

He has also served as a member of several organizations, including the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the National Association of Industrial Technology, and the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE).

Throughout his career at UWA, Cobb’s mission has been to produce graduates prepared for full-time employment through hands-on learning that meets industry standards. One way he accomplished this is through the expertise of the Division of Engineering and Technology advisory board. The board, comprised of 15 Alabama industry professionals, including eight UWA alums, has played a critical role in the program’s success, offering suggestions on improving the E&T degree programs to better qualify students for internships and co-ops.

Cobb has also dedicated the past 38 years to serving as a bi-vocational worship leader. While he is stepping down from this role, he noted he remains committed to serving God in whatever capacity he is called to. He and his wife, Allison, a three-time graduate of UWA, have two sons, Tyler and Lane, both graduates of UWA’s Division of Engineering and Technology. Cobb’s retirement plans include spending time with his wife and two grandsons, fishing, playing golf, and hunting. The couple also wants to visit as many of the National Parks in the U.S. as possible.