COSAM News Articles 2020 January Influential Auburn Alumnus, C. Harry Knowles, Leaves Lasting Legacy with Nationwide Impact

Influential Auburn Alumnus, C. Harry Knowles, Leaves Lasting Legacy with Nationwide Impact

Published: 01/14/2020

By: Maria Gebhardt

Harry Knowles, a prominent Auburn University graduate, scientist and philanthropist was known for his brilliant mind and for his generosity to his alma mater and the Knowles Teaching Initiative (KTI). KTI has supported more than 200 teaching and senior fellows who have taught mathematics and science to in excess of 150,000 students nationwide. Knowles was part of the nation’s first satellite program, Project Vanguard and held more than 400 U.S. patents.

Founder of Metrologic Instruments, an industry leader in laser and bar code scanner manufacturing, he spent four decades leading the company. Over that time, it developed cutting-edge technology found throughout the world in supermarkets, airports and even libraries.

"Harry brought great energy and passion to everything he did because he was never afraid to fail,” explained Dean Nicholas J. Giordano of the College of Sciences and Mathematics. “He was a successful inventor and businessman because he was bold in pursuing his vision—whether it be his science or his growing of Metrologic to a global powerhouse or his support of Auburn or his vision of improving U.S. science and math education through the Knowles Teacher Initiative. He loved what he did, and he loved learning. He shared generously from his many talents and resources. He always encouraged those around him and inspired all of us who were lucky enough to know him.”

Knowles earned his undergraduate degree in physics in 1951 and his master’s degree in physics from Vanderbilt University in 1953.

 “He had a relentless passion for teaching students physics and was dedicated to improving the process for Auburn students,” explained J.D. Perez, a professor in the Department of Physics who worked with Knowles. “Moreover, he was a kind and caring person who generously gave to help others succeed especially in the field of mathematics and science.”

In May 2008, Auburn University awarded him an honorary doctorate degree for his renowned career.

Knowles received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Auburn University in 2007 and was recognized as a 2006 College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) Distinguished Alumnus.


Knowles was born in 1928 in Birmingham and passed away on January 7, 2020. Read his obituary.  

More stories that may interest you
Latest Headlines
Select a year below.

Stay Connected