MacGyver Gets a Major Makeover, and You're Invited!
Mark Atwater posted on February 21, 2015 |

Whipping up a perpetual motion machine from a paperclip, fishing line and a ball point pen is what most rational people would consider impossible. MacGyver considered it another day on the job. That’s we loved (and still love) about him. There is a plan to bring him back to TV, just not quite the same as we last saw him. This time he’ll be a woman, and it’s likely she won’t be Caucasian.

MacGyver continues to inspire millions around the world. His international popularity is part of the reason he is being reinvented. There is also a strong push to encourage women to pursue engineering.Part of the issue seen as surrounding the gender gap in engineering is that there are not many female role models in engineering disciplines. This takes direct aim at that issue.

The new MacGyver comes courtesy of a competition. The exact shape the new character will take has not yet been determined and you can help make that decision. The Next MacGyver Competition is seeking ideas for the character and flavor of the new series. The top five contestants will get $5,000 each and will be paired with an accomplished Hollywood TV producer as a mentor based on their topic area.

From their website, the competition is, “… focused on catalyzing the next great TV show that will excite women to engineering.” According to Lee Zlotoff, creator of the original MacGyver series, “I literally could not tell you how many times people have come up to me and said, ‘I became an engineer, or I went into the sciences because of MacGyver.’” Based on the positive response to the original, the competition hopes to renew the excitement and expand the audience.

The gender gap in engineering has been tied to many factors, but not all are accurate. As discussed in a recent Q&A on the engineering gender gap with Olin College faculty – an engineering school where women outnumber men in the 2015 entering class – it is the perception of engineering that is largely responsible for the choice women make early on in deciding a career path. Perhaps this new show could shift perceptions enough to alleviate some assumptions that deter women from pursuing engineering.

Maybe it’s a lot to ask from a TV show… but maybe it’s not. Given the impact popular culture has on young people, putting a little bit of glamour into engineering may be a good thing for girls and boys. Hopefully it isn’t a misleading amount. I wonder if Ms. MacGyver will be crunching numbers on her TI-83 or coding in MATLAB?

So, what do you think? What character do you think would best represent modern engineering? Were you inspired by the original MacGyver? Join the competition, the decision could be up to you. The deadline is April 17th.

The video below describes more:

 

Image: macgyveronline.com

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