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Photo via the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Paley Center for Media/“The Next MacGyver” competition/© The Paley Center for Media
Photo via “The Next MacGyver” competition/© The Paley Center for Media/Seattle finalists Nao Murakami (front/center) and one of five winners Craig Motlong (far right)

The five finalists who may make the next great show about a female MacGyver were announced this week — and a Seattle entrant made it.

Craig Motlong, a creative director at local agency Williams Helde, is one of the five finalists who will go on to develop his story idea for the next great woman MacGyver.

The winners, who each pitched a concept for a show around a lead female character based on the popular character MacGyver, will receive $5,000 and be paired with a professional Hollywood mentor to continue developing their series starring a woman engineer.

Photo via The Next MacGyver/Q Branch
Photo via The Next MacGyver/Q Branch

Motlong pitched Q Branch, a spy action show about all the cool gadgets you see in movies. Motlong’s protagonist invents that awesome gear (laser pens, shoe phones, etc.) like the female version of Q in James Bond films.

Unfortunately, UW doctoral engineering student Nao Murakami didn’t make it to the final five, but the fact that her story concept (a woman AI expert with her robot sidekick that channels the greatest minds in science) made it to the final 12 is pretty phenomenal.

Both Motlong and Murakami were plucked from over 2,000 submissions that came from around the world to make it to the final competition, which was launched to inspire greater interest in engineering for women by focusing on a female engineer protagonist.

Below, the other four finalists and their concepts:

Beth Keser, San Diego: Keser’s Rule 702 is about an engineering/science prodigy who passes up a corporate life to pursue life as an expert witness, traveling the country to testify in headline-making cases and solving mysteries. Currently at Qualcomm, Keser has worked in the semiconductor industry for over 17 years, and has eight patents, 11 pending and over 40 publications in the semiconductor industry.

Jayde Lovell, New York City: Lovell’s pitch SECs (Science and Engineering Clubs) is a high school dramatic comedy (think “Glee meets Mean Girls“) about Emily, a “beautiful but snotty teenager” who must join the science and engineering club to avoid getting expelled. Lovell is a STEM communicator for the New York Hall of Science, a host for YouTube’s TYT Network and launched the YouTube channel “Did Someone Say Science.”

Miranda Sajdak, Los Angeles: Sajdak’s pitch Riveting is a World War II drama based on a local prom queen’s life after her fiancé is killed overseas. To do her part in the war efforts, she goes to work as an engineer. Sajdak is a film and TV writer/producer/director who’s worked for producers of films like Drive and Final Destination.

Shanee Edwards, Los Angeles: Edwards’ show Ada and the Machine is a historical steampunk tale around 17-year-old Ada, the daughter of poet Lord Byron, who meets a young computer engineer Charlie. Ada is a skilled mathematician, and she creates logarithms and programs for Charlie’s new calculating machines. The two are obsessed with creating a machine that can think like a human. Edwards recently made a short film called Wink and is the film critic on the site She also produces/hosts the web series “She Blinded Me with Science.”

Here’s Motlong’s winning pitch from the competition below:

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