Casting call for Discovery channel - Top Engineer

I actually filled out an application and created their requested sample video last week including a walk into my mad scientist laboratory/workshop through the secret passage way I built through a bookcase. I also talked to the casting folks at some length, and my supervisor at work just in case. This was my takeaway.

  1. It would be possible for me to do this if I really wanted to using a combination of vacation and time off without pay. But it would be difficult and as some people already said this does not look like a real option for most working engineers or almost anyone with a normal job.

  2. There is some living stipend and a top prize that you compete for. However those are not set yet and they did say that the stipend is not intended to replace pay from a real engineering job. They were particularly elusive when asked about the prize so this very well may not be worth the effort unless the possibility of embarrassing yourself on TV is irresistible.

  3. The competition takes place at WETWORKS, so I expect it involves the design and construction of some type of high tech fountain installation.

  4. They said they really wanted videos that were very expressive. Perhaps even over the top. This suggests to me that they may be looking for people that could take direction. In other words, they do not really want reality TV, but technical types willing to work as cheap actors.

I very much doubt that I will be asked for a further audition, and if I were, I would want to know a whole lot more in the way of specifics. But I believe the deadline for submitting new applications is over now anyway so this information may be of limited value to anyone else.

When I read this, I immediately pictured a TV show about people sitting at a computer CADing. In my opinion, watching someone CAD is about as exciting as watching them sleep. I hope the editors make liberal use of the time lapse and jump cut…

Sorry to resurrect an ancient thread, but…

I heard about this show, here, in this thread.
It looked like fun, so I applied, and made it onto the show.
After some delays, it was filmed last fall, under the new name: “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius” (I liked the old name better.)

I think several of the other cast members did FIRST when they were in high school. (Though I’m the only one still involved.)

  1. Thank you to CD and RoboMom for posting this and letting me know about this opportunity.

  2. Thank you to FIRST for giving me much of the experience needed to compete on this show.

  3. The show will start airing weekly at 10:00 on Discovery Channel on May 1.

Cool! I know you probably can’t talk about the show very much, but can you give us a general description of what to expect?

Each episode (there are 8), will be one challenge. They give us the general idea of the challenge, and we have 30 minutes to write our ideas on a white board, then 5 minutes to present to the judges. The judges pick their 2 favorite ideas, and those people become the team captains. They take turns picking teams from the other 8 contestants.

Once we have teams, they give us the detailed rules and the budget (e.g. 4 days and $10,000). Then we build something. Then we test the devices and the judges eliminate somebody from the losing team. Eliminated contestants are no longer eligible for the grand prize, but they don’t go home either, so the teams are always 5v5.

We had pretty good shops to work in (1 for each team) and could get parts from wherever we wanted (McMaster, of course, was a go-to choice because we needed stuff FAST).

They’ve only shown us the first episode ahead of time, but I’m happy with how it turned out.

That’s cool. I’ve seen the commercials and look forward to the show.

Sounds like a technical version of the Apprentice. I’ll give it a shot.

I probably should at least give the CD community my contributions to the show as well…

Similarly I applied…Made it to the call to LA for final selections before being down selected…(without going into details turned out a couple issues prevented me from doing the actual show…)

But… I ended up as a technical consultant for the actual show.

My job…
Essentially… I was part of the team of engineers that got to test the actual challenges. So we got the raw challenges from the producers and chief technical advisers. This usually consisted of a single piece of paper with the first draft rules… Many times I had to go back and say… “I need more requirements” and they would say… “nah…make it cooler for TV!” Eventually we nailed down all the challenges.

As for the build…We had the similar time frames and budgets. (Though we often had to re-scope things so budgets fluctuated–hopefully 10K was enough for you… I know we ran into that cap for one of them)

In addition we had to unfortunate luxury to work in the not fully ready shops so they could figure out what tools we needed. (think not having Solidworks or any major tools. ie no CNC nor oscilloscopes). Though by the end we had most the items we needed (though we never got that programmable CNC… man would that have helped)

Overall it was a blast. Not a bad way for me to use my vacation time as each challenge turned into a mini build season… I think the challenges turned out well and it will be a great show. I highly encourage you all to give it a shot! And hopefully next year we will have more FIRST members on the show!


You all can look for me as I ended up doing a commercial for one of the sponsors. Though I can’t tell you exactly what the commercial is until it airs, but there is a direct tie to the show (its obvious) so it will only be aired when the show airs… I am the taller guy in Black.

When I first heard of this show, I was a skeptic… But this actually sounds really cool! I’d watch this show (but then again, I listen to old EWCPcasts for entertainment, so…)

I guess now Dean’s vision of FIRST changing the culture seems less crazy than I once thought it was.

This sounds amazing! I hope it’s still running by the time I graduate college! :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

And … Go, Eric, Amy, and Gui!!

There were actually 4 people associated with FIRST on the show this past Wednesday night - along with contestants Eric, Amy, and Gui, the guest judge, the NASA “Mohawk Dude” from the Curiosity mission, Bobak Ferdowsi, is also involved with FIRST according to Dave Lavery’s speech at Championships.