Cory was a late developer, leaving school with few qualifications and working in a homewares store before deciding to go back to college and eventually pursue a passion for robotics. He ended up with a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachussetts Institite of Technology, one of the USA’s top universities.
His PhD thesis looked at one of the thorniest control problems in the field of unmanned air vehicles. Specifically, he wanted to design a robot to “fly as autonomously and gracefully as a real bird”. He recalls: “The thought of building an autonomous robotic bird completely fascinated me and I ran with the idea. It eventually earned me the award.”
Cory says “receiving the award was an incredible honour, which provided the opportunity for me to network with Boeing leaders and learn about the number of exciting programmes in unmanned systems. I received recognition from one of the leading companies in aerospace and it opened opportunities for me in both the aviation and robotics industries.”
Since the award, Cory has graduated and taken up a position not in aerospace but for Walt Disney Imagineering Research in California as a postdoctoral researcher. “I’m working on new technologies for entertainment robotics, including flight, which will ultimately serve as new entertainment experiences for Disney parks around the world,” he says.
He says the Boeing award has significantly enhanced his career prospects and self-confidence: “As a graduate student, the recognition that this award can bring and the feeling of knowing your work has the potential to influence your field of research in the long term is priceless; not to mention the added benefit of getting the opportunity to personally connect with industry experts at one of the most exciting events in aviation. I would highly encourage students to enter the competition and take advantage of the many opportunities this award can bring.”