The electrical engineer and roboticist most known for his time on Myth Busters died unexpectedly of a brain aneurysm yesterday. He was 49.
Grant Imahara graduated from USC with a degree in electrical engineering, but his path took a decided turn after assisting a professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
“I liked the challenge of designing and building things, figuring out how something works and how to make it better or apply it in a different way. When I was a kid, I never wanted to be James Bond. I wanted to be Q, because he was the guy who made all the gadgets. I guess you could say that engineering came naturally.”
When he left school he worked in the THX division of LucasArts and eventually moved into the visual effects department at Industrial Light and Magic. You can see his work in blockbusters like The Matrix trilogy and the Star Wars prequels. He also worked as a model maker for the company – he worked on R2D2 for the prequels. One of his many claims to fame while ILM was designing a custom circuit board and RC relays to control the movements of the Energizer Bunny.
In the early aughts, he made appearances on BattleBots both as a contestant and a judge. Then Jamie Hyneman invited Imahara to join the MythBusters crew, and he signed on as the third member of the Build Team. He was the person behind many of the robots use on the show and he did a lot of electronic and computer setups for various episodes. He left the show in 2014 but re-teamed with his cast-mates for Netflix’s White Rabbit Project in 2016.
Imahara continued to work with ILM on various projects over the years and starred in several films including Sharknado 3 and the web series Star Trek Continues. His work at ILM showed his passion for teaching and creating – he coached a team in the FIRST Robotics Competition and wrote a book on how to build battle bots. He worked with Disney Imagineering in the creation of Stuntronics in 2018, which was a big step forward in robotics.
Grant Imahara was an enthusiastic ambassador for engineering and science. His innovations made an impact in ways we all feel and he will be greatly missed. Adam Savage shared his memories of friendship and working with him at ILM and on Mythbusters in an emotional live stream yesterday.