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What's Your Favorite Engineering Movie?

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Alexander Wolfe
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Defense worker on film
Alexander Wolfe   7/25/2011 7:38:57 AM
I have a soft spot for 1993's Falling Down, starring Michael Douglas and Barbara Hershey. Its going-postal theme notwithstanding, I think it really captured something about the engineering mindset and/or engineer as a cog in the SoCal defense-contractor machine. Or maybe it was just the good acting; Robert Duvall is in it too.

Douglas Smock
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Apollo 13
Douglas Smock   7/25/2011 8:34:41 AM
My choice is Apollo 13. Two liquid oxygen tanks in the Service Module malfunctioned, aborting a moon landing, and forcing a sudden effort to get home. Getting breathable air was a major issue.

An engineering team at the flight center developed a solution on the fly. Square air cleaners from the Command Module are used in the Lunar Module. Manual course corrections are made with the module's igniter. Failure was not an option, as the flight director told them.

Steve Saunders
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Re: Defense worker in file
Steve Saunders   7/25/2011 8:55:16 AM
it has to be Fantastic Voyage for ultra-realism 

but if only they had had - ahem - 3d then 


David McCollum
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Re: Apollo 13
David McCollum   7/25/2011 9:06:49 AM
I'll vote with DOuglas on this one. Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama (the rocket city) and celebrating my 16th birthday the night Armstrong landed on the moon make it close to home. Second choice would be A Night To Remember, the 1953 version of the sinking of the Titanic.

Beth Stackpole
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Best and worst
Beth Stackpole   7/25/2011 2:30:20 PM
Beautiful Mind has to be up there among the best since the story line was so compelling, and Russell Crowe did such a great job showing where the combination of genious and paranoia can land you. On the totally stupid, but resourceful side--what about all those TV episodes of MacGyver and the Saturday Night crew's absolutely hysterical (granted, stupid) interpretation called MacGruber?

Rob Spiegel
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Apollo 13 and Castaway
Rob Spiegel   7/25/2011 3:38:52 PM
Here's yet another vote for Apollo 13. The whole movie is the team process of solving an engineering problem. On the caveman level, how about the engineering in Castaway? I saw it over the weekend for the 5th or 6th time. Again, probelm solving -- this time with very limited resources. I love how many uses he got out of the ice skates.

User Rank
Best and Worst
Tim   7/25/2011 9:12:11 PM
One of my favorite engineering movies is October Sky.  The "Rocket Boys" found a way to make their dream a reality.  It reaffirms my belief that engineers are born as engineers and schooling just gives them additional respect.  Worst engineering movie has to be Speed just for the ridiculous bus "jump" across the missing section of the interstate.  A 12 ton bus does not stand a chance of jumping that far.

TJ McDermott
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TJ McDermott   7/25/2011 10:30:32 PM
JJ Abrams' Star Trek took the most well-known engineer ever and turned him into comic relief, with a monkey-like side kick no less.

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Apollo 13
jmiller   7/25/2011 10:46:08 PM
I agree.  "We got to make this square peg, go into that round hole, using only this."  I often thought of how similar this is to all of those high school or engineering 101 projects where the object is to drop an egg from the roof and protect it using only rubber bands and straws.  It's movies and goofy little tasks like this that inspire young engineers to start down that path towards the engineering profession.

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Best, OK and Worst SciFi Movies
oldtimer8080   7/25/2011 11:45:47 PM
I'll have to go along with the realism in Apollo 13 for best Sci Fi. I'll say the ORIGINAL classics and none of the remakes are good,from TDTESS and Forbidden Planet....Yes, we have finally created some of the devices and explored the unconcious ( NEVER CALL IT THE SUBCONCIOUS ) mind and it's powers...

For some backhanded realism, SPACE COWBOYS takes a look at the predjudices and mentality of many STUPIDVISORS and Government Lackey types that have infested the space programs...( who DID sell that computer design to those " peaceful " Russians )...

For the Eco-Freaks, " Silent Running " was the ultimate film for the ultimate greenie, the forest was saved and the ship was blown up...

And for the purely bad Sci Fi flick to blow your mind...

I nominate DARK STAR...

Where else do you get to see a parody of science fiction and social topics every few minutes? And you get to see someone psychoanalyzing a smart fusion bomb? ( they lose, BTW )...

I'll also give a special mention to all the Star Trek TNG fans who liked DATA...

The QUESTOR TAPES was a pilot movie to explore AI before it became a science and engineering study...and it was the close idea behind the creation of the DATA character.

That is the best robot based film made, IMNSHO (sorry, RUR and Metropolis ).


But my best film of all time is Dr. STRANGELOVE.....and we still deal with those same issues today.

Yes, I have all these movies in my ~2.5 Terabyte collection on the media servers...






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