Eric Berkenpas
National Geographic Society


Eric Berkenpas of National Geographic: Helping to Understand Our World Through Engineering

In his job as Senior Director of Exploration Technology at the National Geographic Society, engineer Eric Berkenpas designs some of National Geographic’s most unique imaging tools and equipment to help us better understand the physical world we live in – ranging from the mysteries of undersea life to volcanoes and caves. In his work, he has helped develop such high-tech tools as the Dropcam, a camera that can film in some of the deepest regions of the world’s oceans; the Crittercam, a camera attached to wild animals that can record video and audio as well as collect other data; and some of the first aerial photographic drones used by National Geographic.

“I geek out about engineering stuff, but it’s also cool to get out in the field and come face to face with a great white shark or sail a sailboat to the deepest hole in the Atlantic Ocean and send a camera down there and see what comes back,” says Eric, whose work has taken him to some of the most remote regions of the world.

His undertakings have also contributed to National Geographic magazine stories and television series. Eric holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from South Dakota State University, and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maine.

His advice to students wishing to pursue engineering? “Participate in science fair projects, and if you are interested in using technology to study the behaviors of animals, especially marine animals, just volunteer at centers that frequently handle those animals.”

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