Robby Cook Remembered As Exceptional Student

SOCORRO, N.M. March 3, 2014 – Friends and faculty of Robby Cook remember him as an accomplished and inspirational student and colleague.

Mr. Cook , 21, passed away Sunday, February 23, 2014. (A formal obituary is below). He was a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. A 2010 graduate of Rio Rancho High School, Robby was a key member of the Space Structure Design team.

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Robby Cook (center) smiling at the launch of his team's structural health monitoring experiment in late 2013.


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Robby Cook (left) watches the launch at Spaceport America in late 2013.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Andrei Zagrai/New Mexico Tech


“Speaking for the entire Mechanical Engineering Department, we are all very saddened by the loss of our student Robby Cook,” said Dr. Warren Ostergren, associate professor and department chair. “Robby was an extremely bright and hard-working young man who impressed all of his professors. He was a key member of our Space Structure Design Clinic Team and got the chance to participate in a very successful rocket launch at the New Mexico Spaceport late last year. He will be deeply missed by his teammates, fellow students and professors.”

Robby’s teammates – Cameron Lucas, Ben Warner, Wade Thomas, Matt Shubert and Kevin Hill put together the following statement:

“Robby was a great teammate and a good friend to us all. He will be greatly missed and will always be a part of this design team. He was not only knowledgeable about our design project, but his quiet, wry sense of humor never failed to set us all laughing. He was quiet (to all but his closest friends), but we do believe he was the smartest one out of us all. He had that secret sort of smart that no one knew about until they got him to talk. We will remember Robby fondly as a friend, colleague, expert presenter, and all-around good guy. We will forever memorialize his wit, dedication, upbeat spirit, and superlative intellect by integrating those qualities into our own lives and striving to be a little better because of him.”

Team member Wade Thomas said Robby was a gifted engineer and always carried more than his weight on the design team.

“I remember Robby as one who never said much, but when he did talk, he spoke with such intelligence,” Thomas said. “It seemed while everyone else was talking, the gears in his head were grinding away at the problem. At each of our meetings, I would bring in some research, thinking I was the only one to know about it, but every time Robby would know exactly what I am talking about and say whether it would work or not. He was beginning to secretly know a lot about the SHM systems and sensors we were working on. He was extremely smart. I know we will all miss that held-back smile and laugh that he had. I always knew I had said something funny if I could make Robby laugh. I know I speak for the whole team, when I say we will miss him dearly.”

Dr. Andrei Zagrai, Robby’s research advisor, said his team was working on a payload which launched on a sub-orbital space flight in November 2013.

“We remember Robby as a proactive and thoughtful student,” Dr. Zagrai said. “He contributed to several tasks on this project. The whole team, including Robby, attended the launch of a payload from Spaceport America. You may see so much joy on photographs, but now they will serve as a remembrance of a great student who left us at a peak of his academic achievements.”

University president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez expressed his condolences on behalf of everyone at New Mexico Tech.

“Our thoughts go out to Robby’s family and friends for their tragic loss,” Dr. Lopez said. “Robby was an excellent student and his professors and student colleagues all spoke highly of him. Any time we lose a member of the Tech family, it’s a very sad day and all we can offer is our thoughts and prayers.”


Robert "Robby" Russell Cook, 21, passed away Sunday, February 23, 2014, as a result of a car crash in El Paso, Texas. He was a senior majoring in mechanical engineering and an honor roll student at New Mexico Tech. He was also employed through an internship at Sandia National Laboratories. He graduated in 2010 from Rio Rancho High School. Robby enjoyed participating in club soccer, robotics, fishing, skiing, gaming, and other outdoor activities.


Robby Cook

Robby was born August 25, 1992, to Robert N. and Juanita L. Cook in AlbuquerqueN.M.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Robert Cook Jr., and Fritzie and Russ Marsh. He is survived by his parents, Robert and Juanita Marsh Cook, of Rio Rancho, N.M.; sister, RaeAnn Cook of Rio Rancho; brother, Harrison Cook, of Rio Rancho; grandmother, Gladys Cook, of Colwyn, Pa.; aunts and uncles, Joyce Cook, Karen Cook, Steven and Colleen Cook, Pam and Norm Pliner, David and Diane Marsh, Dan and Lynne Marsh; cousins, Scott Pliner, Angie Pliner, Kim Marsh, Dan Marsh, Kevin Marsh, Andy Marsh, Steve Cook, Michael Cook; his close friends since childhood, Ben Warner, Ryan Gunderson, and Eric Rolison; and many wonderful friends and neighbors on Wrangler Court.

Visitation will begin at noon Monday, March 3, at Daniels Funeral Home. A memorial service begins at 2 p.m. Monday, March 3, at Daniels Family Funeral Services - Sara Chapel, 4310 Sara Road SE, Rio Rancho. Inurnment will follow at Vista Verde Memorial Park.

Robby’s smile and gentle personality will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Robby's name can be made to Dixon Animal Protection Society, PO Box 96DixonNM 87527.

– NMT –