Job Opening For The Next MacGyver
Talk about a cool dude: he once stopped a sulfuric acid leak with a piece of chocolate, and dismantled a missile using a paper clip.
The 1980s US television character, secret agent Angus MacGyver, could do it all.
And in 2016 his successor will be a woman, if a US engineering association has its way. Late last month, the National Academy of Engineering launched what it called The Next MacGyver Project, aimed at coming up with ideas for a scripted TV series featuring a female engineer as the leading character.
Thirty years after that cult series riveted TV viewers, "the objective here is not a MacGyver reboot, but to inspire a new generation of young women interested in science and technology by creating a strong female role model," said Lee Zlotoff, creator of MacGyver.
The project is joint initiative by Adam Smith, an engineering professor at the University of Southern California, and Randy Atkins, head of communications at the National Academy of Engineering.
"After an interview with Lee Zlotoff, Adam called me and proposed that we develop a TV show, and I immediately said yes," said Atkins.
The name - The Next MacGyver Project - was suggested by Zlotoff, who has supported the project from the outset.
"I cannot say how many people told me they got interested in engineering after watching MacGyver," said Atkins.
"The idea to make a female lead character comes from Hollywood producers we met during the initial phase of the project," Atkins said.
In the United States engineers of all kinds are in strong demand.
But women make up a minority of the sector and their numbers are falling.
In 2004 they accounted for 24 per cent of engineering posts, but the proportion has dropped to 21 per cent these days.
The Next MacGyver has been well received in the entertainment world.
Many well-known producers are involved in the project.
They include Anthony Zuiker, creator of CSI; Roberto Orci, a science fiction producer who among others brought back a new version of "Star Trek"; Clayton Krueger, who worked with director Ridley Scott, and Lori McCreary, director of Revelations Entertainment, the production company founded by actor Morgan Freeman. Zuiker, whose series has inspired women to work in police forensics, said he is enthusiastic about the project.
"We rarely see women in strong scientific lead roles," he said. "Our role is to entertain, but also to inspire young men and women."