An engineer’s tour of Hollywood

Those golden Oscar statuettes will be handed out on Feb. 26, and engineers have a bigger part in Hollywood than most people realize. An entire category is dedicated to honoring the best Animated Feature Film, which couldn’t happen without software engineers. While the focus at the Oscars is on the movie stars, the host, and who’s wearing what, engineering specifically gets a nod, too. Scientific and technical achievement have been honored by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences since the 1930-31 awards.  Sound, lighting, special effects, and stunts all require engineers and the Scientific and Engineering Award is given to recognize “achievements that produce a definite influence on the advancement of the motion picture industry.” Find more STEM-connected superstars along the Walk of Fame, including Hedy Lamarr who co-invented radio signal frequency hopping, and Ashton Kutcher, who studied biomechanical engineering in college and serves as a product engineer for Lenovo. Jim Parsons who plays theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper “The Big Bang Theory” has a star. Get a first-hand look at movie and television engineering on a behind-the-scenes studio tour through the sets and sounds stages at Paramount Studios, Universal Studios Hollywood, Warner Brothers, and Sony Pictures. This USA Science & Engineering Festival video shows you how movie stunts are engineered. Check out these before-and-after images to appreciate how visual effects engineers enhance your entertainment experience.  And we just can’t resist mentioning that no tour of LA would be complete without a reminder that you’re guaranteed to see real stars with a visit to the Griffith Observatory.