Cornell's mission has always been deploying complex systems in the real world. He is a Carnegie Mellon trained Electrical and Computer Engineer. He was the second engineer at what is now Medrobotics. There he took a surgical snake robot from a university prototype to its first use on a human being. Afterward, he returned to Carnegie Mellon to manage the Biorobotics Lab, focusing on snake robots.
Cornell holds two issued and several pending patents. He is co-author of several peer reviewed publications. Cornell is also an aviation enthusiast; he got his private pilot's license when he was 18.