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“Dream Big” Inspires Future Engineers at IMAX Scale

February 27, 2017

SAN JOSE, CA–IMAX‘s unique format has brought many stories to life – or larger than life – from space, to United States National Parks and to the stage of a Rolling Stones concert. With Dream Big – Engineering Our World IMAX brings the world of engineering to life, featuring a diverse cast of real, problem-solving engineers. Dream Big is a perfect complement to our popular Women in STEM Series of profiles.

Bay Area STEM enthusiasts, present and future, can experience this amazing film (which we enjoyed this weekend) at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.


It’s easy to overlook but the word engineering, which can sound so hard and no-nonsense, actually has its roots in the magical, mystical Latin word ingenium, which refers to the natural, never-ending human thirst for invention…and is also the root of the celebratory word ingenious.

Narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, Dream Big marks the first film for IMAX and giant-screen theatres to answer the call of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiative – which offers a fresh perspective on engineering and aims to inspire kids of diverse backgrounds to become the innovators, educators and leaders who will improve the lives of people across our entire planet throughout the 21st Century.

The film’s eclectic, stereotype-busting engineer cast includes: Menzer Pehlivan, a Turkish-American who grew up wanting to be a movie star until a huge earthquake revealed another way to make a major impact on the world (engineering buildings that keep people safe); Steve Burrows, a curiosity-driven British structural engineer who is a kind of time traveler, using cutting-edge technology to uncover the ancient past in China and construct the future in San Francisco; Avery Bang, who builds bridges in underdeveloped countries, connecting people with new opportunities; and Angelica Hernandez, a Mexican immigrant turned leading Arizona engineer who got her start in the legendary robotics club at Carl Hayden High School in Phoenix, AZ.


Producer Shaun MacGillivray says: “This film actually has more worldwide locations than any film we’ve shot before. There was a ton of logistics involved, but it was all worthwhile because we really wanted to emphasize the global nature of engineering, which is vital anywhere and everywhere you go on earth. But we also wanted to balance these big, visually awesome projects that take your breath away with projects that are equally about the power of compassion, such as Avery Bang’s Bridges to Prosperity, which helps poor communities by literally building bridges to new worlds.”


For production manager Meghan MacGillivray, the approach of the film was different from any other in the company’s long and varied history of filmmaking. “It’s the biggest topic we’ve attempted,” she muses. “So we had to find a way to tell a massive story in just 45 minutes, one that not only does justice to the amazing engineers we met but that really gets kids thinking, ‘this is super fun.’ For us, the heart of it all was finding our cast, who each in their own way make the subject joyful and thrilling. At the same time, the imagery of the film – from the ancient Great Wall of China to San Francisco’s futuristic Transbay building – is just made for the majesty of IMAX. It’s a true marriage of visual and personal storytelling, which is what we love the most.” That the cast includes so many women was also exhilarating for Meghan. “I just love having these amazing, powerful, strong women on the IMAX screen,” she confesses


With the support of ASCE, Bechtel and additional partners, MFF will, on top of the film’s release, bring forth an unparalleled array of exhibits, events and educational programs to accompany DREAM BIG and take the film from visceral viewing experience to fully interactive educational movement. They include:

  • An expertly designed school program that includes 12 lesson plans for grades K-12
  • 50 hands-on engineering activities designed specifically for museums and informal outreach
  • Plans for engineering-themed events including Girls’ Nights Out
  • Collaborations with local ASCE groups across the country, as well as other groups including the Society of Women Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • Local engineers leading demos and events at museums, schools and public places


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