Auburn professor to present Apple CEO with IISE Captains of Industry Award

Published: Apr 27, 2021 7:36 AM

By Cassie Montgomery

Apple CEO Tim Cook will accept the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers’ (IISE) Captains of Industry Award at the organization’s virtual annual conference on May 24. Cook, a 1982 Auburn University graduate with a degree in industrial engineering, was nominated for the award by Alice Smith, an IISE Fellow and the Joe W. Forehand/Accenture Distinguished Professor of industrial and systems engineering with a joint appointment in computer science and software engineering at Auburn. The award is the Institute’s highest honor that is bestowed solely on business, industry and government leaders.

“It’s an honor to receive this award from IISE, and I’m looking forward to joining many leaders, visionaries and friends at this year’s virtual conference,” Cook said. “My Auburn degree in industrial engineering helped to prepare me for everything my career had in store for me, and it is especially meaningful to be nominated by Auburn Professor Alice Smith.”

A distinguished alumnus of Auburn University, Cook received the Auburn Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. He is the founding chair of the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering’s Alumni Council, founded the department’s Endowed Fund for Excellence and the Tim Cook Leadership Scholarship and established the Tim Cook Endowed Professorship. Cook was selected as the distinguished Auburn Engineer and Outstanding Industrial and Systems Engineering Alumnus in 2000.

Smith, who has known Cook for more than 20 years, nominated him for the IISE Captains of Industry award due to his track record of corporate achievements as well as his personal attributes.

“He is not only an iconic world leader but also a truly good person,” she said. “His corporate achievements are matched by few and exceeded by none, especially in promoting innovation, social justice and environmental improvements. Tim is bold, humble, demanding, thoughtful and kind. As such, he embodies the Auburn Spirit and we can all be proud of this recognition of his accomplishments and that he continues to work tirelessly to better our world in many ways.”

In addition to accepting the award presented by Smith during the conference, Cook will engage in a question-and-answer session at a Captains of Industry Forum with IISE’s Auburn Student Chapter President Annie Dorsey, senior in industrial and systems engineering. The forum will take place from 3-3:40 p.m. ET on May 24.

“On behalf of our leaders and members within the Institute and the profession, IISE is thrilled to recognize such a world-renowned business leader at this year’s Annual Conference,” said Don Greene, IISE CEO and Fellow. “Tim Cook is at the helm of a company whose products have helped to change so many lives around the world. He is an inspiration to industrial engineers everywhere, demonstrating the awesome power that our field has to make the world a better place.”

The Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers is the worlds largest professional society dedicated solely to the support of the industrial engineering profession and individuals involved with improving quality and productivity. More information about the IISE virtual Annual Conference and Expo can be found at

Media Contact: Cassie Montgomery,, 334.844.3668

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