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Deborah Galyan
College of Arts and Sciences

Last modified: Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jamie Hyneman of 'MythBusters' receives IU College of Arts and Sciences' Distinguished Alumni Award

Nov. 13, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jamie Hyneman, special effects expert, inventor and popular co-host of Discovery Channel's hit television series "MythBusters," has received a 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University.

Jamie Hyneman

Photo by Zach Hetrick

Jamie Hyneman

Print-Quality Photo

"The College is delighted to honor Jamie Hyneman for his ingenious and well-recognized contributions to science education, and for sharing his love of scientific discovery with children of all ages through 'MythBusters,'" College of Arts and Sciences Dean Larry Singell said.

Singell will present the award to Hyneman during a Nov. 13 ceremony in San Francisco, where Hyneman lives and produces the show in his visual effects workshop, M5 Industries.

Praised by science educators and profiled in The New York Times, "MythBusters" features Hyneman and his co-host Adam Savage systematically investigating urban legends, popular myths and the real-world plausibility of feats depicted in entertainment media. From pond-skipping sports cars to cell-phone germ counts to various substances' explosive capabilities, the team conducts carefully controlled experiments that conclude when myths are declared "Confirmed," "Plausible" or "Busted."

The show has earned the attention of President Barack Obama, who appeared as a guest star on an episode called "Archimedes Death Ray" in 2010.

Hyneman has said that "MythBusters" suits his "fundamental orientation toward research" that he first identified while a student at IU.

Born in Marshall, Mich., and raised in Columbus, Ind., Hyneman (BA '81) graduated from IU Bloomington with a degree in Russian language and linguistics through the Individualized Major Program. He has made, in his own words, "a living having fun." A taste for adventure led him down varied career paths, including wilderness survival expert, linguist, animal wrangler, machinist and cook.

After several years of working as a boat captain and diver in the Caribbean, he returned to the U.S. in the late 1980s and signed on at Colossal Pictures, producing special effects for more than 800 commercials and for feature films, including "Bram Stoker's Dracula," "Flubber," "Naked Lunch" and "Robocop."

In the late 1990s, he became owner of M5 Industries and made his first foray into television when Blendo, a robot designed by Hyneman and the M5 Industries team, became a popular competitor on the show "Robot Wars."

Hyneman has worked with the U.S. military to develop new safety concepts for military vehicles. He holds a number of patents and was part of the team that designed the aerial robotic camera system Wavecam, used in sports and entertainment events.

Hyneman holds two honorary doctorates: one in engineering from Villanova University and one for popularization of science and technology from University of Twente in the Netherlands.