On Tuesday, April 24, Grant Imahara came to present as part of Kean's Distinguished Lecture Series on Kean's 2018 Research Days.
Imahara is most famous for co-hosting MythBusters as part of "The Build Team." Prior to this role, he had worked for many Hollywood films such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Artificial Intelligence: AI, The Matrix Reloaded, and more at George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic as an electrical engineer and animatronics expert.
Imahara was invited to present his interesting life story as an electrical engineer to inspire Kean students on Kean Research Days.
Many students, faculty and staff had waited outside of the closed doors of the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Auditorium in eager anticipation for Imahara. As the doors opened, all ages and generations of people filed in, filling the air with an excited buzz.
The crowd's chatter died down as Provost and Vice President Jefferey Toney, Ph.D., for Academic Affairs began the presentation with a brief welcome and review of the success of Kean's 2018 Research Days, which had garnered a total of 990 student and faculty research projects from both the Kean Union and Wenzhou Kean campuses.
Next, he opened up the stage to the dean of the College of Natural, Applied and Health Sciences, George Chang, Ph.D. who introduced Imahara and would later be the moderator for the night.
Imahara began by addressing his work on MythBusters. The idea for the show is credited to Australian TV producer, Peter Rees, who wanted a science-based reality show where the hosts would both think of and create experiments to prove or disprove urban legends. Rees had thought to cast Jamie Hyneman after having seen his work at Robot Wars competitions. When Rees approached Hyneman to do the show, Hyneman suggested adding Adam Savage as a co-host because of his energetic and talkative nature. Eventually The Build Team came to include Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Imahara to help with building for the experiments. Imahara then spent 10 years on the show before moving on to other projects.
Imahara shared that he had worked on a variety of Hollywood films for about 10 years prior to MythBusters. Of all the movies he worked on, his favorite was Galaxy Quest in which he built the engines for the full-sized NTE-3120 Protector ship and created the model version of the NTE-3120 Protector. The last of his work in Hollywood films was on xXx: State of the Union as work with architectural models and space ships were more frequently created through computer graphics.
Imahara also recounted funny stories of independent projects he had worked on over the years. One of these stories was his experience building the Energizer Bunny™ robot for use in commercials and advertisements in which he had to strategically use 44 Energizer® batteries to keep the robot running. He had also worked on the R2-D2 robots for the Star Wars franchise, updating and modernizing the electronics within the robots. Interestingly, Imahara had worked 10 years playing the Star Wars robot, C-3PO, for costume appearances as well.
When Imahara wasn't working for companies or films, he created robots for fun. One of his personal robots was called Deadblow, which he used for robot wars. Deadblow was so successful that a toy was made of it and Imahara was encouraged to write a book about the robot which was titled Kickin' Bot. Imahara had also built Geof Peterson the robot to be the sidekick of former The Late Late Show TV host, Craig Ferguson, in exchange for Twitter followers.
The conclusion of Imahara's presentation then opened the floor for audience questions. The question and answer segment of the event ran long as eager students followed one after the other to talk to their role model.
Imahara's interesting life and accomplishments are tributes to the value of doing what one loves. His story, like others of Kean's Distinguished Lecture Series, works to continue to inspire Kean students to do what they love and work hard in what they do.