Magazine article ASEE Prism

Hollywood Engineers

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Hollywood Engineers

Article excerpt

On tonight's episode of L.A. Engineer, sexy civil engineer Stuart Wunderkind dazzles co-worker Rosalind 'Roz' Razzle with his mathematical prowess; meanwhile, Gil Bates makes billions when his company, SillyCon Alley, goes public."

Okay, the above plotline is certainly far-fetched, but if handful of engineers and scientists who are seeking to improve the image and status of their professions has its way, television networks will soon be buzzing with sciencerelated docudramas, a la NYPD Blue and ER. Convincing network executives that science can be must-see TV could be a tough sell, though.

One organization devoted to improving its profession's image, the American Institute of Engineers, has developed a television series called L.A. Engineer, "The show is about people, not things," explains AIE President Martin Gottlieb. "It's a dramaunlike our profession," he quips. Though Gottlieb has been shopping the script around for four years, he's had little luck, and no encouragement. Hollywood mogul David Geffen returned the script in a typical Tinseltown fashion: unopened. Gottlieb's not about to give up, however. "If done properly, L.A. Engineer could improve the status and image of engineers and scientists," he says.

Gottlieb isn't the only one battling against Hollywood's poor portrayal of engineers and scientists. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has dedicated $2 million to encourage positive images of scientists in popular culture, which could lead to more people going into scientific fields and greater public support of science projects.

David Milch, the executive producer of NYPD Blue and co-creator of Hill Street Blues, received a grant from the Sloan Foundation to develop a science-themed pilot series-call it NYPhD Blue-along the lines of his successful cop shows.

Twentieth-Century Fox Television is also developing Killer App, a drama series that depicts the dynamics at a young start-up software company in Silicon Valley. …

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