Mechanical engineering alumna Amy McDow Elliott is one of 10 competitors on Discovery Channel’s “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius,” which premiered May 1.
The program presents contestants with a seemingly-impossible engineering problem, leaving it up to their logic, ingenuity and creativity to come up with a solution. A panel of judges will evaluate each project design, then assign two captains to lead teams. The team with the best design will make the cut from week to week and continue in the competition. The ultimate winner will earn $50,000 and a one-year employment contract at WET, an industry leader in water-based environments and experiences.
Elliott is one of two female competitors on the show. “It’s kind of funny, but women usually bulldoze the men in engineering,” she says in the show’s promotional trailer. “I hope that I can be a role model for those teenage girls that aren’t sure what they want to do. I hope that I can show them that engineering has a lot to offer them, and it’s really fun.”
A doctoral student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Elliott is concentrating on work with rapid prototyping technologies and 3D printers. Elliott has extensive experience in machining and robotics, having served as an apprentice machinist and having spent several years at First Robotics and NASA Robotics Academy. Elliott spent three years at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where she designed and built an experimental apparatus for testing bearings. Her background in rapid prototyping gives her an advantage when it comes to setting designs and executing them on tight turnaround times.