Dr. Mike North is a scientist, engineer and television host who works at the intersection of science, technology, and storytelling and delivers inspirational talks on subjects ranging from innovation to education to community building. Mike’s scientific interests delve into specialties such as biomimetics, micro/nanofabrication, nanoscale microscopy and micro/nanomechanical characterization. His investigations in these areas have been published in leading scientific journals, including Advanced Materials and Nature.
He leads innovative workshops that give students transformative experiences in everything from design thinking to rapid prototyping to storytelling. These workshops expand on his experience leveraging the power of groups from multiple disciplines to rapidly innovate new products, machines, and breakthroughs.
His projects include using cutting-edge nanofabrication techniques to create innovative micro- and nano-sculptures. Expanding on techniques used to make computer chips, he photolithographically patterns surfaces, carves out material using biased plasmas, deposits other materials such as titanium or platinum, and even grows nanostructures using a self-developed cleanroom technique. The entire final structure ends up being smaller than the width of a human hair. Mike also has a knack for building large-scale avant-garde art, such as fire-breathing 90-mph dragon ships or classic BMWs loaded with computer-controlled fire-blasting cannons.
Dr. North is the co-host of the television show Prototype This! on the Discovery Channel where he leads teams of inventors, builders and makers to create cutting edge prototypes and never before seen spectacles of engineering by pulling from all areas of science, technology and manufacturing. The inventions range from 6 legged all terrain vehicles to 30 foot tall waterslide simulators to lifesaving fire fighting equipment.
He is also the co-host of Outrageous Acts of Science on The Science Channel.
Through his design firm North Design Labs, he invents new materials and technologies. He is involved in several start-ups, educational programs, ongoing research, and is a technical advisor to several non-profits. He is a co-founder of Made in America, a national initiative partnering with the White House, Clinton Global Initiative, and NASA to spur American innovation. He is a co-founder of IDEATE, a collective of millennial thought leaders, and is a resident at the Embassy Network in San Francisco. He is also the founder of the nonprofit ReAllocate, which unites engineering and design communities to provide design and engineering support to people in economically disadvantaged situations.
Mike earned a Ph.D. and Masters in Materials Science and Engineering, as well as graduating summa cum laude in Mechanical Engineering, from U.C. Santa Barbara. During his graduate work, he designed and fabricated the world’s first adhesive that can be turned on and off electronically. It was inspired by biological adhesives systems, such as the one used by geckos.