By Juliana Palomino
A fifth-year senior from Louisville, Kentucky, Corbin will graduate in May 2018 with a degree in mechanical engineering, a minor in military leadership, and an aerospace certificate. At the end of the year he will commission in to the Active Duty Army as an Aviation officer. He will attend flight school for two years and serve as an Army helicopter pilot for a minimum of 10 years after graduation.
“I’m going to ride the military as long as I can. I want to try to make it a career, and I’ve got no reservations,” he says.
His engineering interests have shaped his passion for aviation. He spent summer 2016 in Silicon Valley at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the Department of Airborne Sciences. Selected through a national program that provides ROTC cadets with professional experience, he helped prototype a modular unmanned aerial system (UAS) using existing AeroVironment RQ-11A/B “Raven” Drones. He also personally designed and tested landing gear apparatus and ailerons using 3D printing and destructive testing. With his research officially published by NASA, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to explore the aerospace industry and experience professional development.
Yet ROTC has proved not only an opportunity but a challenge for Corbin. Balancing the engineering workload with ROTC has been tough, and it would have been impossible if he wasn’t on a five-year track to graduate. With 5 a.m. mornings 3 to 5 days a week for PT and late nights studying for a Calculus 4 or Thermodynamics exam, he has come close to his breaking point several times. But he has learned to find motivation in this process and has grown because of it.
“Being at the library at 1 a.m., and looking up and realizing that you’re the only one there because everyone else is out partying—that’s really satisfying. It confirms you’re doing something purposeful,” says Corbin.
And his hard work has placed him at the top. Last year, Corbin headed the UK Army ROTC Program as the Cadet Battalion Commander. As a senior, he was named a George C. Marshal scholar, ranking in the top 1 percent of the 30,000+ cadets currently enrolled in the national Army ROTC program. As a Marshall Scholar, he traveled to the army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), sitting in marble halls, listening to distinguished speakers, and connecting with other top cadets. “Being around so many other excellent leaders really humbled me, and it made me excited for my future career,” he remembers.
For Corbin, success has come through goal-setting. He’s worked to visualize end goals and then problem-solve with achievable benchmarks. “Set goals, no matter what it is or how small, and work towards them every day. It’s not just going to happen. It takes deliberate effort, and a little bit of determination.”