The Official Biography____________________________________________________________________________

Deanne Bell is an engineer, television host, and the founder of FutureEngineers.org, a platform that hosts national invention challenges for students.


She received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to becoming a TV host, Deanne designed opto-mechanics for military aircraft sensors and worked as a senior application engineer for a CAD software startup in Boston. 


In 2006, Deanne took her first job in television as a co-host for the Peabody Award winning children’s series, Design Squad. She is currently a co-host for CNBC’s ‘Make Me a Millionaire Inventor, and her previous hosting credits include ESPN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and DIY Network.


In 2014, Deanne founded Future Engineers, which hosted its inaugural challenge in partnership with NASA and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation. Students were asked to create a digital 3D model of a space tool, and the winning design is being 3D printed aboard the International Space Station. 


When Deanne’s not working, she seeks out global travel and outdoor adventure. She has hiked to the base of Mt. Everest, cycled from Seattle to Los Angeles, and backpacked solo throughout Asia.


Deanne also serves on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation Board of Directors.


The Unofficial Biography_________________________________________________________________________

::  How exactly do you say Deanne?

It’s pronounced Dee-Ann. My parents named me Deanne because my father’s name is David and my mother’s name is Ann. If you put the D and the Ann together and you have Deanne. So there you have it - Deanne Olivia Bell.

::  Are you really an engineer? Or do you just play one on TV?

Yes, I have a BSME from Washington University in St. Louis, MO with a minor in architecture.

I was always conflicted between engineering and architecture in college, but I’m glad I chose engineering. The foundation of engineering has given me the confidence to design and build any product I can imagine. That is the most empowering feeling in the world.

::  Why did you become an engineer?

It all started when I was twelve years old... I used to go to thrift stores and auto mechanic shops with my parents to get broken appliances to salvage for motors. And the local home depot knew me by name. I loved to build mechanical creations in my back yard, which is ultimately what inspired me to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. (Well, that and I love math.) I still have that motor collection to this day.

::  I hear you camp and hike and stuff?

I love everything outdoors. I’ve done a 5 day hike in Tasmania solo. A backcountry hike in Tibet to Everest base camp (and hitchhiked via horse and buggy for two days to get to the trail head). I’ve hiked to the top of Mt. Whitney in California. I’ve done the Routeburn Track in New Zealand, the Laugevegur in Iceland, and the Tatranska Magistrala in Slovakia. I’ve hiked a glacier in Norway (that was the ice planet in Star Wars!), and a glacier in New Zealand. I’ve hiked in the Pyrenees, the Alps, Tahiti, SE Asia, China, the Karakorum foothills in Central Asia, a bit of Mt. Fuji in Japan. I like to hike. And camp. And bike.

::  You’re relatively young, what kind of engineering experience do you have?

My first job out of college was at Raytheon where I worked as an opto-mechanical engineer. I worked there for three years on a variety of projects. I first worked on a FLIR program, where I focused on the packaging of our FLIR into a helicopter mounted gimbal. (Specifically I worked on the redesign of the afocal telescope and the packaging of the back end receiver components - including the cryo-cooled imager, and CCD camera.)  After assembling our first prototype, I moved on to work for other R&D programs, including SALTI, where I headed up the mechanical design and build of a Synthetic Aperture Ladar optical test bench.

I left Raytheon to travel solo for a year - because I wanted to see Asia before I had a mortgage and family, and before I was too old to stay in hostels that cost $2 a night in Laos.

Upon my return I moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where I hosted my first show on television and worked at a 3D CAD software startup called SpaceClaim. At SpaceClaim I was a senior application engineer, which means I helped test, design, and sell the product from a mechanical engineering perspective. I traveled the world spreading the good word of CAD and turned heads at conferences when people saw a young girl designing faster than they could.

Now I live in Los Angeles, California.

::  So what’s the deal with Future Engineers?

In 2014, I decided to start a national education program that leverages powerful media and brands to communicate the excitement of engineering to students. That year, the first Future Engineers challenge was launched in partnership with the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation & NASA. Together we are developing a multi-year series of space challenges that highlight different research areas at NASA. Long-term, the vision of Future Engineers is to become an online headquarters for student design challenges of all kinds.

Check out the website at: www.futureengineers.org

::  So what’s the deal with Smash Lab?

It was a blast to study the science of destruction. There are 20 completed episodes available to watch. 

::  Why did they call you the Scientist on Smash Lab Season One?

It’s television - and we were given titles. I was ‘The Scientist’ because I did the most geeky number crunching behind the scenes (most of which never makes it to air because, surprisingly, engineering calculations aren’t all that fun to watch on camera.) Engineering is an applied science degree of sorts, so Scientist was chosen for me since Chuck snagged the engineering title. I fought hard to be called just a ‘Scientist’, not a ‘Rocket Scientist’ during Season One.

During the production of Season Two I made the plea to be called an engineer, so they changed it.

::  So what’s the deal with Money Hunters?

It’s a show on DIY Network where we renovated homes on a budget. We renovated 26 homes altogether, and I am happy to say that I am now a licensed contractor in the state of California.

::  So what’s the deal with The Egyptian Job?

The Egyptian Job is a special I did for National Geographic last year about the Pyramid of Hawara. In the 1800’s Flanders Petrie spent months trying to find his way into the Pyramid of Hawara. Once he finally broke in, he discovered the the entire pyramid had been looted, which leaves the questions of who robbed the pyramid? When? and How? A panel of 4 experts - two egyptologists, a crime consultant, and an engineer (that’s me!) hypothesize how it may have been done and our theories were re-enacted.

::  So what’s the deal with Rise Up?

Rise Up is a show on ESPN that renovated high school athletic facilities for schools in need. My co-host and I worked with students, teachers, administrators, local volunteers, local companies, and national corporations to give them the fields (or courts) of their dreams. It was an amazing experience, where the final results brought most everyone to tears. The students were able to meet celebrity guest athletes to hear their stories, as well as pitch in a helping hand on the renovation.

::  Have you ever acted or modeled?

Nope. I’m just an engineer. 

::  How did you get into television hosting?

This is THE number one question I get asked, and there are a variety of answer lengths.

I left my aerospace engineering job to travel. I wanted to see the world on a humble budget and I figured if I waited until someone wanted to go with me, I may be waiting my entire life. So I went - solo.

After 6 months of traveling I was at a hostel in the Philippines and surfed the web (for the first time since I left) and I saw a job posting for Design Squad. I sent in a picture and bio, and they immediately responded, “You look great, but our last audition is in two days in Boston.” I replied, “I’m in the Philippines, is there any way I can get an extension?” They responded, “Let us know if you can make it.”

I had a glass of wine that night with a German pig farmer and he convinced me that I should go. The next morning I got on a plane and flew to Boston. I arrived at 9pm. My audition was at 9am. And after a month of auditions (and crashing on my friend’s couch) I landed my first hosting job.

After PBS, I traveled in TIbet and came back to work at a start-up. I was perfectly happy at SpaceClaim until Darlow Smithson called me up one day and asked me to audition for Smash Lab. The TV ball has been rolling ever since.

::  Are you ever going to go back to “Engineering”?

I never left. Just because I don’t go to a normal office everyday, doesn’t mean I’m not an engineer. Will I ever go back to a regular office? Probably one day. I have to imagine that when I’m 60, blowing up 747s isn’t quite as exciting as it used to be. :)

::  You speak about women in science a lot, what’s your take on that?

This is it, plain and simple.

I want people to look at a picture of a feminine woman and think that she may be an engineer. It’s not an either or choice. You can be both.

I want little girls to know they can be anything they want to be - including an engineer.