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Rick Cory's mother and grandmother were Mexican immigrants, and he is a first generation American, born in Orange, CA. The main reason Cory enrolled at FCC was proximity to his parent’s home, but soon found that he was struck by the passion and dedication of the faculty to their students and teaching in general.
Cory discovered a passion for learning that he didn’t know he had. He had not been a very good student in high school, and he was working full-time at a local home improvement store with no intentions of returning to school. Cory decided to attend Fullerton College as an experimental challenge to himself, and this turned out to be a life-changing experience; one that he stills look back on with very fond memories.
He thinks of Dr. George Sherman, his first physics professor at FC, as a great mentor and friend, remembering him as a source of support during that time, and long thereafter. During the first week of his first semester physics class, they were all given a diagnostics test in order to gauge the incoming students’ knowledge on basic physics. Cory's scores on that test were nearly worst of the class. Given the choice to drop the class or work harder, Cory chose the latter. At the end of the semester the class received a similar diagnostics test, to gauge how much the class had learned over the course of the semester. Cory's scores on the second test were near the top of the class. Afterwards, he received a letter from Prof. Sherman saying he believed Cory had a special talent, and that he would be able to do anything he wanted in life. He also invited Cory to take his advanced physics course the following semester. That small token of recognition was a huge turning point in Cory's life.
Cory has worked on the ATR/USC Humanoid Robot, the NASA Robonaut, robotic birds and planes, the flapping-wing perching plane, the perching glider, and next-generation robotics at Walt Disney Imagineering R&D.
What he initially thought would be a short-lived college experience evolved into a long academic career that Cory could have never imagined at the time. His experience at FC was a time of self-discovery and personal challenge, all of which opened up a whole new world of opportunities.
"Most importantly, be passionate about what you pursue life. It’s those with passion that are left standing when things don’t go as planned."
— Rick Cory
Postdoctoral Associate, Disney Research, 2010–present
Boeing Engineering Student of the Year, 2010
Ph.D. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT, 2010
M.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT, 2008
Robotics Engineer, ATR, Japan, 2004
B.S. Computer Engineering and Computer Science, University of Southern California, 2004
Jet Propulsion Laboratory Undergraduate Scholar Award, 2001
Man of Distinction, Fullerton College, 2001
A.S. Fullerton College, Engineering, 2001
Joel Hail Memorial Scholarship, Fullerton College Foundation, 2000