Jobs Misrepresented in Film and TV: Engineering
As an engineer, you’ve probably put a lot of sweat and toil into getting to where you are now (which we find hugely impressive!) However engineering probably isn’t anything like the average person assumes, much thanks to how engineers are occasionally portrayed in film and television. So while you’re solving complex mechanical problems, or building structurally sound bridges, we’re all sitting here expecting you to fly around in a giant robotic suit while fighting to the very death. But never fear – to put this great injustice to bed, we’ll investigate the films and TV shows that are guilty of such blatant misrepresentation:
If you’re a bioengineer, most likely your work consists of applying engineering principles to the medical field. You may work with stem cells, microorganisms… that sort of thing. But since the release of Jurassic Park, you’ve probably gotten questions about mutating animals or bringing extinct species back to the gene pool. While hopefully we’ll get there one day, bioengineering has more to do with health and pharmaceuticals than it does with altering the DNA of prehistoric animals (and thank goodness for that!)
We’re not sure that MacGyver is an engineer in the truest sense of the word, but at the very least he has the spirit of one (or something). He constantly uses his scientific knowledge to build tools and weapons to get out of sticky situations, and he does this with no blueprints, no maths… just pure innovation and a Swiss knife. You really think you can build a laser out of paper clips and gum?! Well MacGyver can, and if you can’t, then you clearly don’t understand the principles of science.
As a software engineer, your days probably consist of coding, coding, and more coding. But the 80’s cult hit Tron would have us believe that it involves corporate espionage, video game battles, and racing around on cool digital motorbikes. To give you a bit of context, the protagonist is a developer/computer programmer who’s turned into a computer file (don’t ask) and then inserted into some sort of virtual reality after a hack-job gone wrong. We’re pretty sure being an engineer doesn’t involve running around digital realms while constantly at peril, so much as it involves sitting behind a computer, banging your head repeatedly against a desk.
Tony Stark (otherwise known as Iron Man) is an extremely wealthy, ingenious engineer who takes his infinite knowledge and builds a suit of armour that’s basically a jetpack on speed. And while we all know this is a sci-fi and you’re meant to suspend disbelief, it does give the misguided impression that engineers are all as suave and wealthy (and handsome) as Mr Stark. Being an engineer is hardly as glamorous, and while you do get to create come pretty neat things, we doubt any of them would rival his ridiculous flying armour.
Apparently there’s just so many inaccuracies in Armageddon that NASA even uses it for their training programme, asking trainees to point out what is and isn’t probable about the film. We don’t want to run through all the inconsistencies, but the main one would probably be the fact that they can engineer a nuclear weapon big enough to obliterate an asteroid the size of Texas. Though we guess if you’re an engineer you should feel pretty good about yourself; Armageddon makes it look like you hold all the answers and can quite literally save the world.