The Grant Imahara Memorial Study Lounge
The Story of My Friendship with Grant Imahara
My name is Wade Bick. I graduated from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Grant Imahara was in my class and was one of my closest friends. We spent a lot of time studying and working on projects together at USC.
That is me to the left of Grant. Hard to see, but that is our MicroMouse in front of us. A small group of us in IEEE (Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers) spent all semester building it. We barely got it working, not well enough to run a maze, but we could not just slap an Arduino on it like you can these days. Everything was from scratch, all the way down to the PCB (printed circuit board).
I did not meet Grant until our junior year in our EE 349 Class. On our first day of class, we entered into a really small room and we were each trying to claim the last seat in the room for a friend that was late to class. Grant and I did not know each other at the time, but we were surprised to find out that we were actually trying to save a seat for the same person. Later, in our EE 348 class, Grant asked if I wanted to form a study group. He found a room, we invited a couple of other people, and we would spend a few hours every week solving circuit diagrams on the board. Before a mid-term, we would spend much of the weekend in one of those study sessions, in whatever room we could find. At one point, we were spending most of our weekends over at the law school here on campus. It was one of the newer buildings at the time and had the best marker boards and meeting rooms. They must have gotten tired of finding circuit diagrams on their boards every Monday morning because we eventually found signs hanging on the doors that said that space was for law students only!
Besides study groups, Grant and I were also lab partners and spent a lot of time working on projects: marble counters, robotic penguins, the MicroMouse... I think it was our senior year that he convinced our professor at the time, Professor Wielin, to give IEEE some lab space in Powell Hall. After that, you could usually find at least one of us there. I remember one time when Grant brought in a fold up cushion chair from home. He spent a few nights sleeping on that chair in the Powell Hall lab when we had a project due.
I probably would not have graduated if it were not for all the study sessions that Grant led. I might not have gotten a job. He was the driving force of the MicroMouse project, which was the best part of my resume. I did not have a car so Grant drove me to one of my job interviews (which ended up being the company I worked at for 25 years).
Grant’s easy-going nature made him a popular figure in the engineering school. He was outgoing (not a common trait of electrical engineering students) and everyone knew who Grant was. Grant was one of the few students that managed to concentrate on engineering while still keeping one foot in the arts. The acting group he was in senior year performed on campus once and we all went to watch and support him. Grant ultimately merged engineering and performing arts with his work at Industrial Light and Magic, MythBusters, White Rabbit Project, Craig Ferguson’s robot sidekick, Geoff Peterson, and so many others. Grant’s generosity was endless from sharing his giddiness in figuring out how circuits worked to teaching that anyone can build a robot. We are grateful the world had a chance to experience what his friends from USC knew early on. He was a great friend and I will always have so many great memories of our time together at USC.
Honoring Grant Imahara
I would like to honor our memories of Grant by getting a study lounge here at USC named for him in partnership with the Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation. The Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation is a newly launched non-profit organization that is committed to its mission to inspire emerging talent and empower underserved youth in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. It was founded by Carolyn Imahara, Grant's mother and several of Grant's lifelong friends, to continue his legacy of mentorship and giving back to the community. After graduating from USC, Grant went on to influence and inspire so many people with his work as part of BattleBots, ILM, and MythBusters. Let’s keep his legacy alive by reaching this $50,000 goal. All gifts to support the naming of the Grant Imahara Memorial Study Lounge will go directly to the USC Viterbi K-12 STEM Center, providing a series of programs bringing innovative STEM projects to under-resourced K-12 schools, teachers, and families in Southern California. Please read more about the impact of Viterbi K-12 Programs here at: https://viterbik12.usc.edu/. Once we exceed the $50,000 goal to support the naming of the study lounge, all donors will be directed to the Grant Imahara STEAM Foundation to support programs in STEAM education for underserved youth at https://grantimaharafoundation.org.
Please join me in helping to keep Grant's memory alive. With your help we can inspire other students at USC to continue in Grant's footsteps - making people happy with contributions to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).
Thank you for your support.
Wade Bick '93, Electrical Engineering
Grant’s IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0408017/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
Grant’s work on Human Scale Acrobatic Robots with Disney: https://la.disneyresearch.com/publication/stickman/
Article on Grant in IEEE Spectrum: https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-institute/ieee-member-news/celebrating-the-life-of-roboticist-grant-imahara-mythbusters-cohost
More Memories with Grant
Watch this special video created by the Discovery Channel Remembering Grant.
We miss you, friend!
If you have any questions about this campaign or would like to remain an anonymous donor on our “Updates” page, please contact Tiffany Tay, Executive Director of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving for the USC Viterbi School of Engineering at: email@example.com / 213.821.0452
The University of Southern California is a 501(c)(3) organization, so gifts and donations to USC are considered charitable contributions. Gifts in support of the USC Viterbi K-12 STEM Center are tax-deductible in accordance with State and Federal law. Donors to USC should contact their tax advisor or tax accountant when inquiring about their individual tax consequences. USC’s federal tax I.D. number is 95-1642394.