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While engineers generally (meaning constantly) shun movies or shows with too much emotion, they are not unreasonable about it. An engineer may decide that he can respect a story that is about the deep emotional things of life if it contains at least some calculations. Case in point, Rent.

The engineer will likely not get or desire to get the deep emotional angst, or hope that the show has to offer. But he can appreciate that they have calculated the number of minutes in one year, AND they made an entire song out of it!

Calculations are good for movies or theater and the engineer.

The Odds of Going to a Movie

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For an engineer, while there are some movies on their list, many movies are simply not viewable. Here is an equation to determine whether an engineer will go see a movie.

M = (T * At * L)/(E * R)


M = the Movie rating, how likely the engineer is to go to this movie

T = Technology rating, how much technology is used to develop the plot (the plot is actually not essential)

At = the amount of Advanced Technology, mainly things that haven’t been invented yet, like phasers and trimogrifiers. These are not simply magical devices, but have some root in science, only somewhat fiction (so, I guess, science fiction)

L = Logic of the story and actions of characters. Characters doing stupid, illogical things are simply not appealing.

E = Emotional rating. How likely is it that a date or significant other will actually start crying like they are watching Downton Abbey?

R = Romance level. More romance, less likely.

One sees that T, At, and L are in the numerator. These are good. The more of them, the better. The E and R are in the denominator. The more of them, the more likely it is that the engineer will be home calculating a better way to entertain the family.

Engineers Critique Movie Genres

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As I look at the movies that are out now, it makes me think about what engineers think of the different movie genres. Here are a few genres, with recently or soon-to-be-released examples, and the thoughts of an engineer.

Musical (Les Mis, Pitch Perfect) – Way too artsy.

Action (Zero Dark Thirty, Jack Reacher, Skyfall, The Last Stand)   OK. Most of those characters were the type that used to beat up future engineers in school. But an action movie would be really good if the weapons had lasers or phasers or anything else -asers. Bond movies come close.

Historical (Lincoln, Argo)  OK. The more accurate the better. Also, would be great if the movie was about an engineer.

Sci Fi (upcoming Star Trek)  No question. Yes. Cool gadgets and technology and no need for a good plot to get in the way. Also, this type of movie is the most likely to have an engineer as a major character.

Comedy (Here Comes the Boom, Movie 43) Again, OK, but these movies would be so much better if they used engineering humor  – like on engineeringdaze.com.


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This week, we take a look at the engineer and entertainment. Today’s post is about the number 0.0010342%. This represents the percent of movies in which an engineer plays a major role. Notice that this is a percent and it means that in a little more than one out of 10,000 movies, an engineer is given significant billing. Not top billing, of course. That percent is much, much lower. But, there you have it. Engineers provide Hollywood with electricity, clean water, wastewater disposal, engines, sound expertise, computer wizardry, and the list goes on. What does Hollywood give to the engineer in return? A few lines in every 10,000 movies. And most of the movies with engineers are science fiction, so the engineer is usually “out there” socially.

I guess it could be worse. At least not too many engineers are the bad guys.

Movies Are Not Kind to Engineers

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While some movies may make the engineer look good, most do not. Here is one movie the engineer should avoid, although a few years old now – MI3, Mission Impossible 3.

There is a scene near the beginning of the movie in which Tom Cruse’s character is at an engagement party and two women and a guy are talking to him about his cover. He, of course, needed a cover job since he was a spy. His cover job was being a traffic engineer working for the Virginia DOT. He was explaining to them about traffic studies – stating things that were wrong – and then he left. The two women said that they would marry him (he was Tom Cruse), but the guy’s reaction was what most people were thinking. He pretended he was falling asleep.

That is what the engineer gets from Hollywood. Thinking engineers are boring, that that fascinating work they do is of little interest to the rest of the world.

As I said, there are a few good scenes from movies that are complimentary to the engineer, although I can’t think of any right now.