The Oscar-winning producer, director and actor was celebrated at a special tribute, during which documentarian Ken Burns presented Corman with his prize.
He opened up about his highs and lows in Hollywood during an onstage interview, admitting he turned to making films because he hated working as an industrial engineer.
He recalled, "I was a failure of the Stanford engineering class of 1947. I got the worst job at $32.50 a week - as a messenger at Fox (studios). I worked my way up to being a story analyst. I had vague thoughts, primarily as a writer and possibly also some kind of future in directing and production.
"I was a little disillusioned when I gave some notes that helped make a picture (The Gunfighter) a success, and the story editor got a bonus for my notes... I was lucky enough to come along right when the independent field really began to grow."
His filmmaker wife Julie Corman later took the stage to sing the praises of her partner of more than 40 years.
She said, "An engineer is someone who's given a problem to solve and he solves it. And I think that's what Roger has been doing all along."