The original “MacGyver” television show has launched many engineering careers including that of Broadcom Associate Technical Director, David Garrett, who was 15 years old when he first started watching the series.
Like protagonist Angus MacGyver, a spy who used his smarts to problem solve, Garrett said he “loved the fact that MacGyver was ‘engineering’ his way out of trouble.
“I have solved many problems with duct tape and a Swiss Army knife since then,” he said.
Now the producer of “MacGyver,” Lee Zlotoff, together with the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) are looking for a modern-day female MacGyver to inspire the next generation of engineers.
“It is thrilling to see an iconic show like ‘MacGyver’ be remastered into a series that will inspire young women to pursue STEM careers in engineering,” said Paula Golden, president and executive director of the Broadcom Foundation and director of community affairs, Broadcom. “Women are natural problem solvers and all they need to pursue a career in engineering is an inspirational roll model: a female engineer who ‘makes it happen’ every week on a popular TV show.”
Zlotoff, USC and the NAE are sponsoring the “Next MacGyver” competition to find the best TV show premise that will introduce young people to the field of engineering. Their aim is to increase the number of women who decide to pursue degrees and careers in engineering. The contest drew nearly 2,000 entries worldwide in just over two months.
Leveraging his engineering expertise, Garrett was selected as a competition judge. He read and scored 100 one-page scripts that were sent to the selection committee at USC and NAE.
Broadcom MASTERS alumni, Caroline Edmonds and Krystal Horton were on-hand to hear 12 finalists live-pitch their show ideas along with original concept art for the “Next MacGyver” before a panel of judges comprised of Hollywood producers, scientists, actress America Ferrera, Madeline Di Nonno, Chief Executive of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and Anthony E. Zuiker, creator and executive producer of the CSI franchise.
“I think it’s about time that we have a show that features a female engineer as the lead and shows how science and engineering are making a large impact in society,” said Krystal Horton, Broadcom MASTERS 2013 alum. “I think more girls would be interested in joining the engineering club I started at my school and the robotics club if there were more successful role models in the media.”
Broadcom MASTERS 2014 alum Caroline Edmonds spoke with one of the finalists, Jayde Lovell, after the show who grew up liking science, but faced negative thoughts from her peers. After receiving a degree in neuroscience, Lovell decided to change the way STEM subjects were communicated and is now a STEM communicator for the New York Hall of Science and ‘resident science host’ for YouTube’s TYT Network.
“It was really great to hear how the media is trying to make science cool,” Edmonds said. “My favorite was from Jayde Lovell about a popular girl who joined a Science and Engineering Club in high school, and began changing those negative, nerdy views of science class that some girls have.”
Five winners were awarded $5,000 and the rare opportunity to be mentored by Hollywood TV producers and engineering experts to develop their pilot scripts.
“The Next MacGyver contest is a great initiative, especially in the fact that it can provide engineering role models for young students today, but even better to highlight a strong female lead in the role,” Garrett said.
Watch a message from Zlotoff about “The Next MacGyver”: