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The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius

The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius

Photo Credit:  Gilles Mingasson / Getty Images
  • Premiered: 
    May 1, 2013
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: Discovery
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Reality
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Talent
  • Tags: engineering, science

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Plot Synopsis

Hosted by Kal Penn, this reality series pits ten engineers, designers and roboticists against each other, as the contestants compete in a series of elimination challenges to find America's top engineer. The winner earns $50,000 and a one-year contract to work at the state-of-the-art WET Design facilities. In each 60-minute episode, the contestants must develop a solution to an extreme engineering challenge. The expert panel of judges, which includes two permanent members -- Dr. Christine Gulbranson (Nanotechnologist and Renewable Energy Investor) and Mark Fuller (Owner of WET) -- and one guest judge, select the two strongest engineering concepts, based on logic and design. The two competitors with the best plans become captains and select a team to execute their visions in only three days. After three days of intensive work, the teams test their engineering solutions. The team that successfully completes the challenge remains safe, but the losers will face the judges, who determine which contestant will be eliminated. The engineering challenges include: preventing an explosion when two pickup trucks collide head-on at high speeds with explosives strapped to the beds; creating a machine that can cook and arrange a meal for a group of famished tourists near the Santa Monica Pier; building a portable bunker that can be deployed in five minutes and that is able to withstand fire, pressurized water and high-speed winds from a jet engine; and constructing a robot capable of competing in three different athletic events. Guest judges are: Buzz Aldrin, Jason Bardis, Bryan Clay, Burt Dalton, Carl Edwards, Bobak Ferdowski, Brian David Johnson, Kyle Lundequam, Mike Massimino, Dezso Molnar, and Adam Stelzner. Contestants include: Alison, a 31-year-old freelance design consultant; Amy, a 25-year-old Ph.D student and researcher at 3D printing lab; Andrew, a 26-year-old system engineer for the Department of Defense; Corey, a 30-year-old senior mechanical engineer at Lockheed Martin; Dan, a 33-year-old spacecraft systems engineer and flight director at NASA; Eric, a 26-year-old computer scientist and roboticist; Gui, a 25-year-old owner of a Makers Studio; Joe, a 40-year-old owner of an aerospace engineering company; Joel, a 25-year-old welding engineer; Tom, a 49-year-old owner of a manufacturing company; and Ken, a 39-year-old designer of his own medical device company and professor at Georgia Tech.

Other Titles

  • Previously known as Top Engineer

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Pilgrim Films and Television (as Pilgrim Studios)