Wednesday, June 19

Engineer devoted life to his passion


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Courtesy of Claudia Plaza


Randy Cook, an engineer and leader in UCLA Facilities Management for 41 years, died on June 20 of a heart attack at his home. He was 64.

Cook’s friends and colleagues knew him as a dedicated man who was passionate about engineering and helping others.

Leroy Sisneros, director of maintenance and alterations for UCLA Facilities Management, said Cook’s co-workers respected Cook and his knowledge of building maintenance and utilities systems.

“People that worked for him were more concerned (about) letting Randy down than the job itself,” said Sisneros, who met Cook in 1991.

Sisneros said Cook was a “technical guru” of mechanical systems, and was passionate about learning new methods to improve building systems at UCLA.

“He had a lot of pride working at UCLA,” Sisneros said. “He wanted (the campus) to be the best.”

Cook’s advice and work influenced UCLA’s facilities systems over the years.

About two years ago, Cook discovered that an over-filtration of the drinking fountains at UCLA led to bacteria growth on the fountain itself, Sisneros said. The fountains then needed to be cleaned and the filters needed to be replaced with ones that were not as restrictive.

“He was finding what other people were doing in the (building systems) industry and seeing where UCLA was lacking and could work more efficiently,” he said.

Cook’s understanding of mechanical systems was matched by his dedication to his job, Sisneros said.

About two months before Cook died, he broke his leg and came back to work even though his doctor initially advised against it, Sisneros said.

“Randy felt he owed UCLA something,” said Nicholas Stone, senior facilities planner for north campus operations. “He loved his work, equipment and teaching.”

In addition to his nine, or more, hour work days at UCLA, Cook taught students at colleges, such as Brownson Technical School and Cerritos College, for about 25 years, said John Manchester, senior superintendent of facilities management and a longtime co-worker of Cook’s.

Cook’s teaching and mentorship inspired some of his students to pursue careers in engineering and facilities management, Manchester said.

Stone met Cook in 1981 after he gave him a tour of UCLA. He said Cook explained the qualifications he needed to be an engineer and influenced his decision to enter an apprenticeship at UCLA.

During Stone’s apprenticeship in 1984 and 1985, he took two of Cook’s courses at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College.

Cook would put students at ease with his blue jeans and a Hawaiian shirts that he wore every day to class, Stone said.

People were focused on what Randy had to say because of Randy’s style. He was practical and hands-on,” Stone said. “He wanted people to not only see what was in the book but touch it too.”

Cook is survived by his wife Isabel, his two sons Michael and Christopher and his three grandchildren.

An open memorial was held outside of Pauley Pavilion at UCLA earlier this month.

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