Bennett Cook received his B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas. After college, he pursued a career in woodworking — beginning as a house framer, and then transitioning into building furniture and cabinets. When his two children were born, he became the stay-at-home parent for the family but continued to expand his maker skills by renovating the homes in which his family lived.
Once his children were older, he became a part-time educator at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa. There, he educated guests about the history, flora, and fauna of the Mississippi River. A few years later, Mr. Cook became the engineering lab technician at Loras College. In this role, he established a woodworking shop, introduced new machinery to the metal shop, and created the Loras Innovation Lab with 3D printing and CNC milling capabilities. At Loras, he educated first-year students in the safe use of the maker spaces and assisted senior students completing their capstone projects. Once his children were more independent, he accepted a full-time position at Trappist Caskets — a production facility, owned by Trappist monks, that produced wooden caskets and urns. There, he worked as a laser engraver and helped in all aspects of product construction.
Now Mr. Cook is excited to work at Carthage as the engineering laboratory manager. In this role, he will focus on creating safe and welcoming environments in which students can build their ideas.
Hear from Mr. Cook: Why Engineering?
“When I was young, I wanted to be a blacksmith. I was fascinated by the ability to take an iron bar and transform it into a useful and beautiful tool. My grandfather helped me to construct my first forge from an old Weber grill and a hair dryer. This made it possible for me to make very simple nails. My grandfather’s garage also provided me my first maker space. There, I would happily drill holes in an old 2x4 and watch as he carved small figures or made simple pieces of furniture. Working with my hands has been a part of my life ever since.
“At the University of Kansas, I majored in environmental studies. I was drawn to this major because it allowed me to pursue coursework from a variety of disciplines — geology, geography, biology, chemistry, environmental law, urban planning, and others. I enjoy the learning process — whether it’s speaking a new language or acquiring the skills to use a new machine. Our world is constantly changing, and we have to be ready to adapt to these changes.
“As a parent, and through my work as an educator at the Mississippi River Museum and at Loras College, I have come to realize how much I enjoy helping others to learn about the world around them. In my role as engineering laboratory manager at Carthage, I am happy to be focused on enhancing the hands-on learning environments offered within the Carthage Engineering Program.”
- B.A. — Environmental Studies, University of Kansas
Main responsibilities at Carthage
“As the engineering laboratory manager, I am responsible for creating and maintaining safe and welcoming environments in which students can build their ideas.”