The next MacGyver’s not a guy

A contest is open to invent the next engineering hero. No duct tape needed

paper clips

Paper clips, or bomb defusing devices? MacGyver would know how to use them to solve his problems. 

ccharmon /Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A hero doesn’t always need super powers or expensive cars. Sometimes, all they really need is a screw driver and some duct tape.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the show MacGyver featured a spy who saved the day, not with fancy gadgets, but with whatever he had at the time. Many people decided to study science or engineering because they watched MacGyver. Now, several engineering groups are trying to bring MacGyver back. But this time, MacGyver won’t be a man. And they need you to help them come up with ideas.

MacGyver used paper clips, rulers, tape and other simple materials to do everything from defusing a bomb to bringing back stolen diamonds. He didn’t need fancy tools. Instead, he knew a lot about science, and used that knowledge to solve his problems.

IDEAS WANTED A new TV show based on MacGyver needs your ideas to make it a reality. USCViterbi

It’s time to bring that problem-solving spirit back to TV. Until April 17, 2015, you can submit your ideas for the next MacGyver. The competition is sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering, the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the MacGyver Foundation. It also includes producer Lee Zlotoff, who created the original show.

The contest is looking for a show that stars a female engineer. It doesn’t have to be a show about a spy. It could be a comedy, a drama or a science show. It just needs to show the power of science-based thinking and appeal to middle- and high-school audience.

Do you have an idea for a great show with a female engineer? Submit your title, the type of show you’re thinking of and a description of your engineer. Check out the website and make sure to follow all the rules (the person submitting the idea must be more than 18 years of age). Five finalists will get to develop a draft of their very own TV episode. And you don’t even need to bring your own tools.

Follow Eureka! Lab on Twitter

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

engineer  A person who uses science to solve problems. As a verb, to engineer means to design a device, material or process that will solve some problem or unmet need.

engineering   The field of research that uses math and science to solve practical problems.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.