About Us

Our Story...

Founded by former National Geographic engineers, Mike Shepard and Eric Berkenpas, Second Star Robotics has over 30 years combined experience developing reliable tools to collect never-before-seen imagery and data from the deepest places in the ocean to the highest mountain peaks.

Second Star Robotics was founded to apply this unique set of world-class engineering and R&D skills towards the creation of innovative, field-ready systems for any terrestrial or marine environment. We are passionate about creating solutions for tough problems and apply a ‘nothing is impossible’ approach to obstacles.

To do this, Second Star Robotics provides unique consulting services from advice on sub-system design to deployment of complete end-to-end products. We combine state-of-the-art mechanical, electronic, and software development practices with the latest manufacturing techniques to deliver solutions to our customers at any scale, on time, and at low cost. Second Star Robotics serves a spectrum of markets from academic research and media production to utilities and energy and is always hungry for new challenges.

Eric Berkenpas

Co-Founder, Systems Engineer
Eric Berkenpas received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering with a computer science minor from South Dakota State University and a master of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maine.

Eric is formerly the Senior Director of the Exploration Technology Lab at the National Geographic Society. While there he developed technology programs in both terrestrial and marine conservation. He established critical partnerships with technology companies and worked to provide National Geographic grantees, collaborating researchers, and initiatives with novel technology solutions in the field. An engineer first and foremost he built a novel high-reliability real-time operating system for low-power microcontrollers, created control systems for deep diving underwater robotics, and new methods for surveying archaeological sites with radar. He has been around the world from Antarctica to King Tut’s tomb in support of National Geographic expeditions and projects.

In 2019 he departed National Geographic with fellow engineer Charles (Mike) Shepard to establish Second Star Robotics where he works to develop innovative products and technologies to meet customer needs.

Mike Shepard

Co-Founder, Systems Engineer
Charles ‘Mike’ Shepard received a bachelor of science. degree in mechanical engineering from George Washington University. Mike is formerly the senior engineer in the National Geographic Exploration Technology Lab.

With over 18 years of experience developing systems for National Geographic, he has lead numerous field expeditions, designed deep-water camera systems that have returned from the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Developed technologies for unobtrusively drilling into sensitive archaeological survey sites and filming from inside forest fires. He has discovered lost shipwrecks and new species.

He has created methods for attaching instruments to wildlife and has come face-to-face with a great white shark in the process. His work has been featured on several National Geographic series and films.

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