In 1985, a television show about a man doing secretive work for a government agency hit the airwaves, with titular character Angus MacGyver using his brain to come up with solutions to seemingly impossible scenarios.
Preferring to use intellect instead of weapons to defeat enemies, MacGyver was a showcase for unbelievable—and yet, crucially, plausible—feats of science, lasting for seven seasons.
The show sparked interest in science, and now the National Academy of Engineering is hoping it can serve as inspiration to a new generation.
“The Next MacGyver,” sponsored by the NAE, the United Engineering Foundation, and the University of Southern California, is looking for ideas for a show that would feature a female engineer in the lead role.
The overall goal is to inspire students to pursue a career in engineering.
Five winners will be given $5,000 each and will be paired with some of Hollywood’s most influential producers, including Lori McCreary, the president of the Producers’ Guild of America; Roberto Orci, who has written and produced for Star Trek, Sleepy Hollow, Fringe, and Hawaii Five-O; and Anthony E. Zuiker, the creator and executive producer of CSI and its various offshoots.
UT students—male or female, engineer or not—are encouraged to enter, with the deadline coming May 1.
With a pair of recent national reports showing the number of women pursuing engineering bachelor’s degrees declining to just 19 percent and that the percentage of women in the engineering workforce has remained at about 24 percent since 2001, the NAE sought a way to spark interest.
Using the example of how interest in CSI sparked a surge of students pursuing careers they had seen on the show, sponsors hope to improve the aforementioned statistics by having a female engineer in a lead role.
“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,” said NAE President C.D. Mote Jr. “This contest provides a rare opportunity to tell a story of engineering and engineers that people practically never see.”
Submissions should be roughly one page, include a proposed title and genre, a short description of the show, breakdown of lead characters, and ideas for episodes beyond the pilot.
A panel of judges from engineering, entertainment, and academia will select twelve contestants to further develop their ideas and pitch them to another panel of judges at a live event this summer. Five finalists will be selected at that time, and pilot scripts will be completed by the end of this year.
More details about the contest and rules for entering can be found online.
C O N T A C T :
David Goddard (865-974-0683, firstname.lastname@example.org)