Grant received his degree in electrical engineering from USC in 1993 and landed a job with Lucasfilm, finding his way onto the Industrial Light and Magic team to work on blockbuster films like the Star Wars prequels (R2-D2 among other practical effects) and sequels to Terminator and The Matrix. Joining the Mythbusters team in 2005 was something of a move to rapid prototyping. Each of the 22-minute episodes operated on a 10-day build and a film cycle in which Grant was often tasked with designing and fabricating test rigs for repeatable testing with tightly controlled parameters.
After leaving the show, Grant pursued several acting opportunities, including the Kickstarter funded web series Star Trek Continueswhich we reported on back in 2013. But he did return to the myth busting genre with one season of The White Rabbit Project on Netflix. One of the most genuinely geeky appearances Grant made was on an early season of Battlebots where his robot ‘Deadblow’ sported a wicked spiked hammer. Video of his appearance in the quarter-finals is like a time-capsule in hacker history and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
Grant Imahara’s legacy is his advocacy of science and engineering. He was a role model who week after week proved that questioning how things work, and testing a hypothesis to find answers is both possible and awesome. At times he did so by celebrating destructive force in the machines and apparatus he built. But it was always done with observance of safety precautions and with a purpose in mind (well, perhaps with the exception of the Battlebots). His message was that robots and engineering are cool, that being a geek means you know what the heck you’re doing, and that we can entertain ourselves through creating. His message lives on through countless kids who have grown up to join engineering teams throughout the world.
Grant Imahara was on hand at the Hackaday SuperConference for a fireside chat led by Sophi Kravitz and Chris Gammell. You know Grant from his work on the television show MythBusters. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering, is known for his work on robots and special effects, he’s the engineer behind the Energizer Bunny, and has even competed on BattleBots. Over the past year he joined with Mouser Electronics to promote engineering through their Empowering Innovation Together campaign. Mouser was one of the sponsors of the 2015 Hackaday Prize and they were happy to work with Grant to make this appearance possible.
We had a chance to interview [Grant Imahara] at the 2014 Electronica conference in Munich, Germany. If you don’t recognize [Grant’s] name you’ll probably recognize his face. He’s been on the cast of the television show Mythbusters for about 10 years now. We heard recently that he was leaving the show and that’s how we crossed paths with him.
[Grant] has signed on with Mouser Electronics to promote their Empowering Innovation Together program. They hosted him on a press junket at their booth and since we have a good relationship with Mouser they offered Hackaday an interview slot.
We had a lot of fun talking to [Grant]. Unfortunately the wireless microphones the Mouser videographer was using were picking up a lot of interference. This didn’t directly affect our recording setup as we were using a handheld voice recorder, but we kept getting interrupted as they tried to figure out the problem. Still, as you can see from the video below, we managed to get all the way through a few questions about [Grant’s] introduction to electronics at a young age, his first job out of school working for Industrial Light and Magic, and his advice to others who want to get into electronics and specifically robots. He mentions his early learning was guided by the books of Forrest Mims and that these days learning about electronics is no more than a keyword search away.
If you’re around the Washington, DC metro area next weekend, here’s something for you. It’s the USA Science and Engineering festival, and if you’ve ever wanted to talk to [Adam] and [Jamie] from Mythbusters, [Bill Nye], and several astronauts, this is where you should be next weekend.
This is the second USA Science and Engineering festival. The first festival, brought to bear because of an act of congress. The last festival was highly successful (and fun), so we can’t wait to see the reports from next weekend roll in. This time around, there will be scale models of the Orion Service Module, an F-22 cockpit Demonstrator, and a demonstion of an F-35 taking off vertically. Yep, Lockheed Martin is hosting this festival, but it’s still cool.
Even though the website makes it seem this festival is geared towards children, we’re sure we’d have a blast visiting. Here’s a solution: borrow a niece or nephew and show them what engineering can do.
We have to note you can also visit the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center while you’re in DC. It’s just a short Metro ride (with a bus transfer) from the convention center where the festival will be taking place. We highly recommend the tour of the facility. If anyone knows if you can see the space shuttles Discovery and Enterprise at the Udvar-Hazy center next weekend, drop us a line. We’ll amend our DC ‘look at cool stuff’ recommendations.
There’s a new show coming to the Discovery Chanel called Weaponizers. Brought to you by the same people who brought you Mythbusters, this show centers around weaponizing and remote controlling cars. They’ll be building them with several different types of competition in mind, including defense of an object and all out warfare. You’ll note in the press release that they keep mentioning their special effects backgrounds. Judging by the picture above, we should expect to see them shooting lots of fireworks, maybe some flame throwers thrown in. Generally, we think we’ll see lots of flashy stuff that really isn’t effective at destroying an unmanned car. They do mention live ammunition, so maybe they’ll actually try to make these things able to harm each other. Let’s hope they don’t let us down.