Female Engineering Challenge to Find the Next MacGyver

The gauntlet is thrown: Can you out-MacGyver MacGyver?

Hollywood producers and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) have thrown down the gauntlet. Is there a female engineer out there that can out-MacGyver the most “Eng-enuitive” man to wear a mullet, Angus MacGyver?

The Next MacGyver crowdsourcing competition was announced to help celebrate National Engineering Week. The competition’s goal is to spawn an iconic TV series to inspire youth, especially girls, into STEM careers.

“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,’” said Lee Zlotoff, creator of MacGyver. This isn’t surprising, though; Agent Angus MacGyver would use his engineering know how to solve a life or death problem in every episode. Thankfully, Zlotoff and the MacGyver Foundation will be working with the contest.

“The new face of engineering is not that of Dilbert in the cartoons,” said USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. “It is the face of bright women and men, spanning societal, racial and ethnic divides. Diversity is not a political slogan, it is an essential ingredient for innovation.”

The contest will not re-boot the series. Instead, the idea is to create a new series with female role models in the lead. The hope is that an iconic female role model will encourage girls to see themselves in a similar role.

This is important as the National Student Clearinghouse is reporting a drop in female engineering undergraduate students and Change the Equation is expected to report that the rate of females in the engineering workforce has been stagnant for the past 13 years.

“Having been one of only a few women at UCLA studying computer science … I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help inspire a new generation of women forging a path in engineering and technology,” said Revelations Entertainment CEO Lori McCreary.

As President Obama once said, “When you see an engineer or a tech person on a TV show or movies, something like 90% of them are male.  So if you never see you in that position, it’s hard to imagine, well, that’s something I should be doing.”

The President might have a point, there was a significant boom in forensic science enrollment after CSI made it big. In fact, CSI series creator Anthony E. Zuiker said, “What CSI did for science is what engineering can do for humankind … Through ingenuity and innovation, the medium of TV will help galvanize youth to go into the field of engineering.”

The five contest winners will be pared with a Hollywood producer to develop the character, pitch, concept, story and pilot episode. Most importantly, these producers are no strangers to strong female characters and/or engineering related content. The list of producer mentors includes:

  • David Eick, writer/producer known for Battlestar Galactica
  • Clayton Krueger, Sr. VP Scott Free Productions known for 3001: The Final Odyssey
  • Lori McCreary, CEO Revelations Entertainment known for Madam Secretary
  • Roberto Orci, writer/producer known for Star Trek, Scorpion & Finge
  • Anthony Zuiker, executive producer of the CSI franchise

“We could not be more pleased to have some of Hollywood’s top talent donating their time to develop compelling women engineer characters and bringing them to life on the screen … This contest provides a rare opportunity to tell the story of engineering and engineers that people practically never see,” said C.D. Mote, Jr., NAE President.

Deadline for the Next MacGyver contest is April 17th, 2015. The one page submission should include a proposed title, genre, description, lead character breakdowns, and pilot episode ideas. For more information go to www.thenextmacgyver.com.

Source and images from NAE1 and NAE2

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at Engineering.com, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.