When Joshua Dobbs, a sophomore from Alpharetta, Georgia, was eight years old, he and his family visited the Kennedy Space Flight Center in Florida. They toured the facility, met astronauts, saw the history of manned spaceflight and rode in a fighter jet flight simulator.
“It was so much fun being in a plane. You could feel the actual G forces. I was fascinated with it,” says Dobbs.
Five years later, his mother brought home an application for the Tuskegee Airman ACE (Aviation Career Enhancement) Camp. “You had to submit an essay explaining your interest, which was easy for me,“ says Dobbs, who was one of twenty youngsters picked for the weeklong camp.
The campers flew with an instructor in a single-engine plane and watched the air-traffic control operations, but for Dobbs the biggest moment was touring the Delta production facility.
“We were able to talk with the mechanics, see the planes up close, and see just how massive they really are.” Through the years, Dobbs kept his fascination with airplanes. “Sometimes I’d go to the airport and just sit there and stare out the window and watch the big jets go by.”
In his college search, Dobbs had many options, including Princeton, Yale, and Harvard. But one of the deciding factors was UT’s engineering department. “I felt comfortable with the professors in my conversations and interactions with them, and I enjoyed the atmosphere of UT,” says Dobbs, who is an aeronautical engineering major.
Of course Dobbs isn’t just an engineer. For the last four games of the 2013 football season, he was the Volunteers’ starting quarterback, only the eighth freshman quarterback to start in more than a century of Tennessee football. He completed seventy-two of his 121 passes for 695 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 189 yards, and in June he made NFL.com’s list of the fourteen smartest players in college football.
In the last five games of the 2014 season, Dobbs led the Vols to three wins and the TaxSlayer Bowl bid by completing 61.5 percent of his passes (96 out of 156) for 1,077 yards, eight touchdowns, and only five interceptions while running for 503 yards and six touchdowns.
When his time at UT is over, Dobbs hopes to transfer the success he’s found on the football field to his career.
“My ultimate goal is to build and design airplanes and someday own my own airplane company,” says Dobbs.
Watch Dobbs and the Vols take on the University of Iowa during the 2014 TaxSlayer Bowl on January 2.
Photo courtesy of UT Athletics