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Engineering-Themed Competition Seeks ‘The Next (Female) MacGyver’

Engineering-Themed Competition Seeks 'The Next (Female) MacGyver'

The Next MacGyver, a joint initiative of the National Academy of Engineering and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, hopes to offer a new face in problem-solving under extreme pressure: a lady MacGyver. A contest has been launched to find the exciting new voices that will help create a TV show featuring a female engineer in action. The original “MacGyver,” of course, focused on a spy who uses his vast knowledge of engineering to troubleshoot his way out of deadly situations. 

“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, the show’s creator. 

As the press release for ‘The Next Female MacGyver’ explains, “We
are looking for TV ideas that will feature female engineers or female
protagonists who will similarly use their powers of engineering to solve
problems…. Given that only 4.5 percent of American students receive degrees in engineering, compared to 14 percent in Europe or 21 percent in Asia, the time has never been better to recast the image and possibilities of the modern engineer.” 

The competition isn’t seeking to reboot the original franchise, but rather are asking, “Can you out-MacGyver ‘MacGyver’? Can you imagine that next female hero that will inspire
a generation of young women to see themselves as engineers?” 

The hope is that “the process [of the competition] itself will generate publicity and public engagement focused
on the need to inspire increased public awareness about engineering.” As far as we’re concerned, anything that gets people talking about women in STEM fields is a great thing — and the fact that we might have a female MacGyver to look forward to makes this project that much more enticing. 

Details for those looking to enter the competition can be found below. 

The proposed plan is the following: beginning
during National Engineer’s Week 2015, entrants will initially submit basic one-pagers
about their show idea – genre, title, logline,
pilot summary, main character description and three sample episode descriptions
The top 12 will prepare a short pitch and mini “show bible” from which an
expert judging panel, including representation from both Hollywood and
engineering, would select five Grand Finalists to work with professional
writer-producers on a pilot screenplay. The finalists will be guaranteed a
“reading and pitch” with Hollywood production companies and a real chance at development
of a pilot. The process itself will generate publicity and public engagement focused
on the need to inspire increased public awareness about engineering.

Next MacGyver”
project has three primary

Catalyze the development
of the next great TV show depicting female
engineering heroes. Some criteria
for the ideas and stories
produced include:

Must be a good story, well told. Entertainment is the highest
priority. As Walt Disney famously
said: “I would rather entertain
and hope that people learned
something than educate people and hope they were entertained.”

Show must feature either
female engineer(s) as protagonist
OR a female character that uses engineering as a
central element to the show.

Show must be compelling to a middle or high school audience
(from which we will get
the next generation of engineers).  

Inspire storytellers to think about
engineering-related characters, themes and topics

3.      Create a national marketing campaign (to tie in with MacGyver’s 30th anniversary) that engages public interest in engineers
STEM themes.

due to (expect 1000 – 2000 ideas)

  • Title
    / logline / genre
  • Brief
    pilot synopsis
  • Female
    protagonist description
  • Potential
    episode descriptions (3)

13 – April 30:
Two review committees (40 readers / 20 from
entertainment / 20 from engineering worlds) cull ideas down to top 12

12 finalists announced

  • Top
    12 authors must produce 10-15 page “mini show bibles” based on the work  
  • Commission
    student artists (USC Cinema animation students) to create one-sheet
    posters and concept art based on top 12


Top 12 submissions due

blast: view gallery of top 12 ideas and posters

White House Top 12 “Engineering Idol” event. Concept art and verbal pitches are
presented to panel of judges from entertainment and engineering (this might be
a public event). Top five are chosen as TV pilot scripts, awarded $5K each,
partnered with industry mentors.

writers meet with mentors / break story / develop outline

Recap / Compilation video on top five ideas presented / Beijing / NAE Global
Grand Challenges Summit

Screenplays are due (submitted to mentors)

Screenplays due to production companies / agents

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