Thomas Corbett

Thomas Corbett

#PeopleofNIU Photo by Wade Duerkes/Institutional Communications

Hometown: Genoa, IL

Year: Junior

Major: Mechanical Engineering

What are you studying and why?
I’m studying mechanical engineering because I really like building things. I’ve always been relatively good at math, so coming into an engineering background seemed natural. Within Mechanical Engineering you have a large spectrum of career opportunities. You have your mechanical side that’s looking at robotics, or you can go more towards the material side, or many other directions. It’s very open, and you can pursue a lot of different avenues. Almost every area within mechanical engineering is heavily needed and is growing very quickly, not only in research but also commercially. That drive and those opportunities I find really cool.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?
Going through the design process, the process of physically making something. Last semester I was part of the NIU robotics team, and I had the opportunity to help design manufacture tests and compete with a quad copter. I played a rather significant role throughout the process. I was able to start designing a quad copter using software at NIU. Once it had been checked over by several people, we were able to start making it. It’s the most rewarding feeling to have something you’ve been looking at on a screen for months, to actually make it in the shop and physically cut it out and drill the holes, and make it all very precise to what you had already designed. Once you have all your parts, putting it together and having it be a physical thing that you spent at that point months of working and developing, and it’s actually a physical thing. Learning the whole process was rewarding beyond belief.

Why should other students choose NIU?
I think people should choose NIU because of the opportunities. There are a lot of opportunities to get what you want out of your education here. The reason I tell people to come here is because you have the opportunity to instantly jump into research. There’s programs like research rookies if you don’t know which faculty to work with, and you can join a group of primarily freshmen and sophomores, where you choose a subject and are assigned a professor within those departments. In my opinion, doing that research helps improve your learning ability, and improve your scholarly skills.

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