A Porta-Potty jacked up on sugar rockets flies 100 feet into the desert air. A hydro-jet pack fashioned from fire hoses lifts a man out of a lake.
That’s the stuff of “It’s Effin’ Science,” a G4 cable network TV series co-hosted by Chad Zdenek, a licensed civil and mechanical engineer turned charismatic science evangelist. “Math and science have been falling behind in the U.S.,” he says. “Not as many students are going into those fields or going as far with them. So I enjoy getting people interested in it.”
Zdenek, dubbed “The Science Guy,” has two sidekicks, Mark (“The Guinea Pig”) and Angie (“The Sexy Host”), and together they filmed 10 episodes in 2010. Think skateboard rockets, shopping cart motors, homemade night vision goggles.
“We give our disclaimer, ‘Don’t try this at home,’ but there is always room for backyard science,” Zdenek says. “That’s where some of the best scientists and engineers get their roots, as young kids in the garage and backyard doing crazy stuff.”
Funny thing is there wasn’t anything wacky about Zdenek’s first job. After earning a civil engineering degree from LMU, he worked for seven years with Boeing in the Space Shuttle Main Engine group. He focused on liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen turbomachinery. While working fulltime, he earned a master’s in structural engineering from USC and an M.B.A. from UCLA. To cut the intensity, Zdenek volunteered with Discover “E,” a program to get kids interested in engineering, and his passion to spread science was born.
Zdenek’s impact grew when he moved to TV, appearing on “Human Wrecking Balls,” which featured stunts by Craig and Paul Pumphrey, martial artists who hold seven world records for breaking things. He was on 20 episodes from 2008–09.
With the second season of “It’s Effin’ Science” on hold, Zdenek connected with budding scientists in May as the host of the opening ceremonies for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a global competition for high schoolers held in Los Angeles. “This event is basically the world championship of science fairs and had attendees from 65 countries.”
When he’s not working in television, Zdenek runs a successful Christmas lighting business with his brother and stays an active Lion. He has been on the Alumni Association board and served as president. “A lot of my success is from the experiences I had at LMU. I can never give back enough for what I got.”