Dream Big: Engineering Our World reveals the impact engineers have on society

Dream Big: Engineering Our World film shares stirring human stories that reveal the impact engineers have on society


From the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots, solar cars and smart, sustainable cities, the new film Dream Big: Engineering Our

Great Wall
The Great Wall of China has endured for thousands of years. In Dream Big, viewers learn that in some sections of the wall, builders used sticky rice in the mortar, which enhanced its durability. Copyright: Sophy Ru.

World showcases the human ingenuity behind engineering marvels. Through inspiring stories from a young woman engineer building bridges in undeveloped countries and an underprivileged high school robotics team that succeeds against all odds, among others, Dream Big reveals the compassion and creativity that drive engineers to create better lives for people and a more sustainable future for us all.

The team at OSPE was lucky enough to attend the Canadian premiere of Dream Big at the Ontario Science Centre in February, and we highly recommend that the engineering community, young people and any individual who is wondering what engineers really do go to the Science Centre to see this inspiring and beautiful film.

Narrated by Jeff Bridges, Dream Big is the first giant screen project of its kind to promote the educational engineering movement. The IMAX® film offers an exciting new perspective on what it means to be an engineer. “Parents and teachers are looking for ways to turn kids on to science and engineering,” said Director Greg MacGillivray, a two-time Academy Award nominee. “With Dream Big, we wanted to bring something new to that effort with an entertaining, visually spectacular film full of stirring human stories that reveal the impact engineers have on our society. We hope it energizes kids of all ages, especially girls, to think about engineering as a meaningful way to help others and leave a positive mark on the world.”

Dream Big
Engineers work on the final pieces of the Chameau footbridge in Haiti. The Chameau Bridge will provide much-needed access to schools and medical care for isolated, rural families.

OSPE also had a chance to sit down with Steve Burrows, an engineer from the UK who is featured in the film.

Burrows is currently based in San Francisco and has led the engineering of many major international projects, like the “The Bird’s Nest” Olympic stadium in Beijing. He was travelling to premieres across North America to promote the film and speak with young people about engineering.

Why is it important to encourage young women to become engineers?

Engineering is changing completely. When I became an engineer, a long time ago now, engineers were mostly male, and the perception of an engineer was hard hat, yellow vest, big steel-toed boots, mathematically strong. That was an engineer. And boring. And the jokes were “an extroverted engineer looks at your shoes instead of his own when he talks to you.”

And of course, now it’s completely different because the problems we’re facing are much greater than we’ve ever seen before. People are going to be living longer in cities. Those cities are going to be taller, people are going to be living higher in the air. They’re going to need better health care because they will live longer. Energy has got to come from sustainable sources. The climate is changing, sea level is rising. Food – if people move from the fields to the cities, who is going to grow the food? Where’s the water going to come from to grow the food? Cars are going to be driverless and there’s going to be no road signs and no road markings and maybe no traffic lights, and maybe no parking lots. And what will streets look like?

You know, the future is going to be completely different, and we need people who can think differently.  We need a more diverse range of people, we need more women who want to become engineers, because we know teamwork is important to engineering, and teams work better when they’re gender balanced, so that’s vital. We need different thinking when it comes to how people are going to interact with spaces and buildings.

Why should people see Dream Big?

We want to inspire people to say, “that looks really cool – I can design my future.” I think the most important thing is that the film feels inspirational. You can feel an emotional connection to the film. You can see that engineers are fun people, and they love what they do, and they’re really excited about it. We’re trying to create that spark initially. But then, it’s more than a movie – it’s a movement.

If you go on the website (www.dreambigfilm.com) there’s a variety of behind-the-scene clips and tools that can be used in schools for children to try it. Because engineering is one of those things that you have a go at. You give a two-year-old a pile of wooden blocks, and he or she will build a skyscraper. And we get to do that for real and we get paid for having fun – that’s what engineers do, we design things.

What has your experience been with young people you’ve encountered while promoting Dream Big?

As part of the movie, we’ve talked to a number of students from the age of 10 to 16 typically. They have no fear of the future. They are absolutely fearless.

In Washington, D.C., there was a group of boys and girls who designed a city of the future. And I talked to them for about half an hour. I started asking really easy questions. And at the end, I thought – there’s nothing I can ask them that they haven’t thought about. They’d thought about how waste was going to be turned into energy. They’d thought about every possible energy source – ground source, heat pumps, geothermal, solar, wind. These children were 10 years of age, and they had a model of this city they’d built. They’d spent $100 and every time I asked them something they’d take something off of the model and say “hey, look – this is that, here’s how it works.” They were so fearless.

And I think that, what I’ve learned is that you can treat children like children, but I don’t think we should because they’re so ingenious. And that’s what engineer means – ingenious. We want to get that innocence and lack of fear and get children to keep it. Because that’s what will make a difference in the future.  

Dream Big is a family friendly video that has a run time of 40 minutes. Tickets at the Ontario Science Centre are $9. For ticket and show time information, please visit www.OntarioScienceCentre.ca.

For more information about the film, visit www.dreambigfilm.com.  

Leave a Reply

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.