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Local on Discovery’s Big Brain Theory

Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 10:16 am

Amy McDow Elliott

Amy McDow Elliott

Amy McDow Elliott, originally from Fayetteville and currently of Blacksburg, Va., will be on the Discovery Channel’s “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius” on Wednesday, May 1.

Hailed as the “Southern Martha Stewart of Engineering,” Amy is 26 years old and has an IQ of 128.

The daughter of Ted McDow of Fayetteville and Gaye Henley of Louisville, Amy earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, where she is now pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. In addition, she works as a researcher for 3D Printing Lab.

“This Virginia mech-head calls herself the Martha Stewart of engineering, because she can do it all,” states her bio on Discovery’s “The Big Brain Theory” website, which goes on to state that she has amassed a ton of experience in the machine shop with mechanical design and in robotics competitions.

The show is set to air on May 1 at 9 p.m. central time.

She got her start in the field when she participated in the robotics program at Lincoln County High School, according to her father. While attending LCHS, she also became involved in NASA in Huntsville, Ala., where, as a student, she gained two patents. She graduated from LCHS in 2004.

“After serving as an apprentice machinist for six months, she used her metalworking skills to build robots, spending several years with First Robotics and NASA Robotics Academy,” continues her bio. “She also worked for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center for three years, where she designed and machined an experimental setup to test bearings.

“Her current PH.D. work deals with rapid prototyping technologies, so she knows how to design and build extremely fast. Amy is undoubtedly smart, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously, describing herself as ‘hilarious, loving, dynamic, talkative … sometimes a baby and sometimes the boss … but always Southern.”

“The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius” will feature a seemingly impossible engineering challenge to be solved by the contestants each week. Competitors will have just 30 minutes to come up with a solution using their own intellect to complete the challenge. Based on logic and design, the expert panel of judges will determine the best engineering concept and select two captains to lead their teams to execute the project. The team wit the best design will remain safe, but the losers will face the judges who will determine which member will be eliminated.

The cameras will not only capture the tension and pressure in the design workshop but will also go inside the living quarters where all the competitors must reside, dealing with each other’s quirks and habits.

The winner of the competition will earn $50,000 and a one year contract to work at WET, the industry leader behind some of the world’s most innovative water-based designed environments and experiencing including the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas.

The show is hosted by actor and producer Kal Penn. He is joined each week by judges Mark Fuller, president and CEO of WET, and Dr. Christine Gulbranson, a nanotechnologist and renewable energy innovator.