By all accounts, Dan Moyers, a 2002 graduate of West Virginia University with degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering, already had a lot on his plate in 2013.

Moyers works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. and had a hand in the development of the Curiosity rover, a car-sized robot currently roaming around the surface of Mars. But when a friend in the entertainment industry sent him a casting call email for a new show in development on the Discovery Channel, Moyers found it to be an opportunity too good to pass up.

“I checked out the show description and thought, ‘Wow! Building really cool stuff with massive amounts of power tools? Count me in!’” Moyers said. “The concept for the show was very unique and right up my alley, and it was a chance to try something totally out there and adventurous, so I decided to audition.”

On Wednesday, May 1, the first episode of “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius” will debut at 10 p.m. Moyers, a native of Bruceton Mills, will join nine other contestants who will be tasked with solving a seemingly impossible engineering challenge in just 30 minutes. 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.

“Because the show throws a group of intelligent leaders with completely different personalities into a room, pushing their minds to the very limit to see what inventions they can come up with, you can be sure there will be drama,” said Moyers. “In everyday life, each of the cast members is probably used to leading a team and being the smartest person in the room. Things will go right and things will go wrong but the show will always be exciting to watch.”

According to Moyers, the audition process was extremely competitive with the production team seeking to ensure the participants could apply their intelligence and actually build something that could be used to solve real-world problems. His experiences at WVU impressed the selection committee for the show.

“As a student, I tried to maintain a good balance between getting good grades and developing leadership skills with such organizations as Tau Beta Pi and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers,” Moyers said. “I was able to use what I learned in class through working with such projects as the Pumpkin Drop and the Formula SAE race car design team. These hands-on skills are what really stood out during the audition process for the show, and were also critical in landing a job with NASA.

“This show involves brilliant contestants from engineering powerhouses such as Stanford and MIT,” Moyers continued, “and I’m hoping to show that WVU graduates can compete at the highest level with anyone else out there. I really take pride in my ‘Mountaineer spirit,’ and this passion will be key in pushing me along the way. The concept behind the show is groundbreaking and viewers will learn a lot from watching. I’m thrilled to be a part of it!”

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 experiences including the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas.



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

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