I have to admitt that I miss having engineers on TV; however, most of the time it would make for a boring show--- except to us fellow engineers. Then again, whenever there is a scientists/engineer on a show us fellow engineers tend to be the most critical about "That's not possible" or "They have no clue what they are talking about" so....mayb it's just as well.
The problem is with the writers. They don't have an engineering background and can't just "wing it" as with other genres. The creator of Spongebob Squarepants is a marine biologist who created an entertaining show from elements of his field. Engineers can be writers too, and not just for cartoons.
Cooking is definitely both chemistry and physics, two things that are big parts of engineering. Unfortunately Hollywood seems to portray many engineering types as not very exciting people. As for McGiver, he almost always violated the laws of physics and material strength to the point of being absurd. And anybody familiar with ordinance knows that you never have a counter displayed to show seconds until detonation.
MythBusters and Junkyard Wars did certainly display the use of engineering principles.
But how exciting would it be to show me walking into a plant that I have never seen, working with folks that I don't know, to repair an undocumented machine that I have never seen before, and have only a vague description of the malfunction? I find it exciting and a worthy effort, but looking at it from outside would not be that entertaining, unless possibly one were the plant manager.
I think the Cooking channels have already laid a path for us. We can have an exciting contest like Iron Chef with 2 teams, a "secret ingredient" and 3 judges. All it needs is glamor and charisma. We could have our own "Bizzare Products" where a host can visit companies that make "Bizzare" products. Someone mentioned MythBusters which is a great show. More shows along those lines would help.
Apollo 13 was both dramatic and engineering front and center. Never mind that it was due to a failure of a part in space that threatened the lives of the astronauts. It showed an engineering approach to solving a problem with limited time, resources, AND high stakes. Perhaps, more shows could emulate that recipe?
As others have said, most engineering is problem solving that to outsiders looks incredibly dull. However from a TV show perspective, Eureka is fun, and has engineering/physics etc all mixed in. Certainly not accurate, but does somewhat glamorize the tech field, which is more than what can be said about Big Bang Theory.
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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