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SWE and The Next MacGyver

The Next MacGyver competition was launched to create a new TV program, this time with a female protagonist who uses her powers of engineering to solve problems.
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Thirty years ago, Angus MacGyver used his powers of engineering to solve problems each week. In the process the TV program created a huge interest in engineering. Earlier this year, a competition was launched to create a new TV program, this time with a female protagonist who uses her powers of engineering to solve problems… and inspire a generation of young women to see themselves as engineers.

On July 28, I had the fabulous opportunity to watch the live conclusion of the competition where the 5 finalists for The Next MacGyver were selected. In front judges like Wanda Austin, President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, America Ferrera, actress and founder of Take Fountain Productions, and Debbie Sterling, Founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, 12 finalists had just over 5 minutes to make their pitch and answer questions from the judges.

The finalists were from across the US, as well as Canada and Australia. The ideas included dramas, comedies and sci-fi’s, some set in the future, some in the past. I found it amazing how quickly 5 minutes passes when one is trying to convey the concepts of an entire television show. And the questions from the judges were insightful… What age group will this show appeal to? Is the protagonist a person that young women can relate to? Can this concept support dozens of episodes?

While the judges were deliberating, the audience enjoyed a video welcome from Megan Smith, the Chief Technology Officer in the White House, and a panel discussion by several women in the entertainment industry, who discussed the process of taking a TV show concept from idea to pilot.

Before, during and after the judging, we were able to mingle with the other attendees, including a number of impressive young women who have participated in First Robotics competitions. I was also impressed at the number of people who recognized Society of Women Engineers on my name badge. How cool is that?!

The 5 finalists are all amazing. They will each receive $5000 and be paired up with accomplished Hollywood television producers as mentors who will help them develop a TV pilot script. The final pilots are expected in mid-November. I personally can’t wait to see the outcome!

For more information, including streaming of the entire event, go to



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