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USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the National Academy of Engineering Announce 12 Finalists of 'The Next MacGyver' Competition For New TV Series Starring a Female Engineer

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – July 8, 2015 – The USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the National Academy of Engineering announced today the 12 finalists for “The Next MacGyver” competition. Created to introduce a new iconic TV series starring a female engineer and developed in conjunction with MacGyver creator Lee Zlotoff and The MacGyver Foundation, the contest drew nearly 2,000 entries worldwide in just over two months. The aim of the competition is to leverage television as a tool for introducing people to the field of engineering and to increase the number of women who decide to pursue degrees and careers in engineering.

The finalists hail from as far away as Australia and include practitioners and scholars in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, seasoned and first-time writers, students, and an Internet personality. Show concepts include: science fiction thriller, comedy, classic spy, historical, and interactive crime drama.

The Paley Center for Media will co-present and host the finale event of the contest on July 28, beginning at 2 p.m. PDT at its Beverly Hills location. During the event, the 12 finalists will present their show ideas along with concept art before an esteemed panel of judges.  Five winners will earn the rare opportunity to be mentored by successful Hollywood TV producers and engineering experts in developing their pilot scripts, in addition to receiving a prize of $5,000 each. The live event will be sponsored by the United Engineering Foundation, Google, and the Ford Motor Company.

A special panel session “From Script to Screen,” illuminating the process of taking a TV show concept from idea to pilot, will take place during the event while the judges are deliberating. Bloomberg Associates’ Katherine Oliver will moderate the panel, which includes: Ann Blanchard (CAA), Marci Cooperstein (ABC Family), Danielle Feinberg (Pixar Animation Studios), and Ann Merchant (Science and Entertainment Exchange). The event emcee will be Julie Ann Crommett, who leads Google’s efforts to improve the perception of computer science and engineering in media. 

“The Next MacGyver” finalists are:

Kristen Bobst, Marina Del Rey, CA: Drama / Procedural
Wesley Burger, Long Beach, CA: Comedy
Shane Courtney, Fayetteville, AR: Sci-Fi / Drama
Shanee Edwards, Culver City, CA: Historical / Steampunk
Beth Keser, San Diego, CA: Adventure / Procedural
Jayde Lovell, New York, NY: Comedy / Drama
Craig Motlong, Seattle, WA: Spy / Action
Nao Murakami, Seattle, WA: Sci-Fi / Crime Drama
Sam Ruano, Ontario, Canada: Drama / Procedural
Miranda Sajdak, Los Angeles, CA: Historical Drama
Daniel Wright, Queensland, Australia: Science Fiction / Drama
Judy Wu, San Mateo, CA: Interactive Crime Drama

For additional details on the finalists, their story concepts, and concept art, please visit:

The judges and mentors* for this competition are:

• Wanda Austin, Aerospace Corporation president and CEO; member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
• Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
• America Ferrera*, actress/producer (Ugly Betty, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)
• Clayton Krueger*, senior vice president of television at Scott Free Productions (3001: The Final Odyssey)
• Maja J. Matari?, professor and Chan Soon-Shiong Chair in Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics; vice dean for research at USC Viterbi School of Engineering
• Lori McCreary*, CEO and founder of Revelations Entertainment; president of Producer’s Guild of America (Madam Secretary, Through 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 of GoldieBlox
• Valerie Weiss, biophysicist; founder, PhD Productions 
• Lee Zlotoff, MacGyver creator 
• Anthony E. Zuiker*, creator and executive producer of the CSI franchise, including CSI: Cyber

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About The Paley Center for Media
The Paley Center for Media, 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