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“The Next MacGyver” Competition Finalists Presentation

“The Next MacGyver” Competition Finalists to Present Their Concepts for New TV Series Starring Female Engineers at Special Live Pitch Event

USC Viterbi School of Engineering and National Academy of Engineering to announce winners of the global contest on July 28
co-presented and hosted by The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – June 17, 2015 – The USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the National Academy of Engineering, and The Paley Center for Media, will co-present a special event with the twelve finalists in “The Next MacGyver” competition on July 28th at 2pm at The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. Before an esteemed group of Hollywood producers and executives, leading engineers, and students, all twelve presenters, who will be named in early July, will showcase their exceptional ideas, complete with concept art, for a new iconic TV series starring female engineers in a wide array of genres. At the conclusion of the event, five winning entrants will gain the rare opportunity to be mentored in developing a pilot script by successful Hollywood TV producers, in addition to a prize of $5,000 each.

“The Next MacGyver” competition, launched during the 2015 National Engineer’s Week by the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the National Academy of Engineering in collaboration with The MacGyver Foundation and Lee Zlotoff, creator of MacGyver, was conceived to build excitement around the field of engineering, particularly among women. By the contest deadline, nearly 2,000 submissions had poured in from men and women around the world.

President Obama has singled out engineering as a profession that will solve the nation’s greatest challenges. However, advancements in engineering are largely happening without half of America’s creative brainpower: at only 19 percent, the share of women who receive engineering degrees has actually fallen in the last 10 years. In a 2012 study by Professor Stacy Smith and the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the USC Annenberg School, it was shown that of the 275 prime-time television shows, zero featured female engineers.
The event is sponsored by the United Engineering Foundation, Google, and the Ford Motor Company.
When: Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. PT
Where: The Paley Center for Media465 North Beverly DriveBeverly Hills, CA 90210

Who: Judges include:

  • Wanda Austin, Aerospace Corporation president and CEO; member, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
  • Madeline Di Nonno, Chief Executive Officer of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
  •  America Ferrera*, actress/producer (Ugly BettySisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  • )Limor Fried, founder, Adafruit Industries; first female engineer featured on the cover of “Wired”
  • Clayton Krueger*, senior vice president of television, Scott Free Productions (3001: The Final Odyssey) 
  • Maja J. Matarić, professor and Chan Soon-Shiong Chair in Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics; vice dean for research, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  •  Lori McCreary*, CEO and founder, Revelations Entertainment; president, Producer’s Guild of America (Madam SecretaryThrough the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman)
  • Gabrielle Neimand*, head of Take Fountain Productions; producer (The Last Exorcism, The Thing)
  • Roberto Orci*, writer/producer (Star Trek, Scorpion, Sleepy Hollow, Hawaii Five-O, Fringe)
  • Debbie Sterling, founder and CEO, GoldieBlox
  • Valerie Weiss, biophysicist, founder, PhD Productions 
  • Lee ZlotoffMacGyver creator 
  • Anthony E. Zuiker*, creator and executive producer, CSI franchise (including the recently launched CSI:Cyber)

*will serve as a competition mentor to one of the five winners

For more information, visit:

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The USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10 graduate schools of engineering, USC Viterbi -- situated in the nation’s entertainment capital in Los Angeles -- has enjoyed close ties to the film and television industry, as well as its fellow USC School of Cinematic Arts, the nation’s #1 cinema program. USC Viterbi’s own interdisciplinary work with USC Cinema include the nation’s top video games program (USC Games), and the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), a U.S. Army-funded research center that has resulted in cutting-edge work in virtual humans and motion capture technologies, including the Oscar-winning visual effects of films like “Avatar,” “Spiderman 2” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” USC Viterbi is also home of the Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC), a NSF-supported Engineering Research Center at the crossroads of media, entertainment, and engineering.

The National Academy of Engineering
The mission of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshalling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science and technology.

The MacGyver Foundation
The MacGyver name is synonymous with innovation, ingenuity, and the ability to solve complex problems using only the resources at hand, particularly in the face of a crisis. The MacGyver Foundation aims to encourage and support individuals and organizations throughout the world that utilize self-reliance, non-violence, and sustainability to improve people’s lives.

Lee Zlotoff
Lee Zlotoff is an award-winning writer, producer, and director of film and television. Among his more than 100 hours of television credits, he was the creator of the hit series “MacGyver” as well as the writer/director of the indie hit film “Spitfire Grill,” which won the coveted Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Zlotoff, who has also been a regular contributor to Make magazine, looks to further STEM education through MacGyver-based curricula and initiatives to help create the next generation of problem-solvers.

The Paley Center for Media

The Paley Center for Media, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public. Drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the leaders of the media community, the Paley Center examines the intersections between media and society. The general public can access the collection and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape. Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry. For more information, please visit
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