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Program Uses Hollywood to Inspire Future Scientists, Engineers 

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By Cynthia D. Miller 

There has been a proliferation of shows dealing with forensics, medicine and military intelligence lately. CSI, NCIS, Numbers, 24, House, Grey’s Anatomy, Bones, Law and Order, Army Wives are a few seen on the small screen. Brothers, The Hurt Locker, Answer Man and Avatar are recent movie hits.  

The success of these shows relies on a symbiotic relationship between the writers and the professionals who validate the content of the scripts. The entertainment industry is key to shaping our culture, and has the potential to help create our next generation of physicians, scientists and engineers.

In the midst of this creative quest toward social responsibility is the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) with offices in Burbank, Calif., and Reston, Va. Founded in 1983 by Brian Dyak, EIC’s mission is to “bring the power and influence of the entertainment industry to bear on health and social issues.”  Dyak’s work to start runaway teen crisis centers early in his career allowed him to see how media could inform. This inspired him to found the National Network for Youth, which not only established a voice on public policy, but also gave Dyak a foot in the door to the inner sanctum of decision makers in entertainment and on Capitol Hill.  

EIC has created public service campaigns such as the anti-drug “Stop the Madness” ads, and the “Incredible Crash Dummies,” which encourages seat belt use. It focuses on film student mentoring, expert and technical advisory resources for journalists and entertainment creators, and producing the annual PRISM Awards TV special, which recognizes excellence in the portrayal of substance abuse and mental health issues. A recent success for EIC is connecting writers of the television series, The Forgotten, with the Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

In 2009, EIC’s research and strategy division, the Entertainment and Media Communication Institute, announced a partnership with Boeing to strengthen the portrayal of engineers and scientists in entertainment media and present a positive and accurate view of careers in these fields.  

“By partnering with aerospace, other science and technology-based industries and entertainment media, we can highlight career priorities and opportunities critical to our ability to compete in the future,” said Rick Stephens, senior vice president of human resources for Boeing.

Boeing has identified 20 engineers representing 10 disciplines who can provide expertise to script writers, broadcast, online and print journalists.

“Changing attitudes and behavior is a complicated process that takes many strategic partnerships, tenacity and time. This is a powerful opportunity to expose audiences to science, engineering and technology as vital fields of study, exciting career pursuits toward jobs that make the world a better place,” said Dyak.  

This year will herald EIC’s first S.E.T. Awards recognizing excellence in portraying science, engineering and technology in entertainment media. The strategy will include public service announcements, social marketing, and a national student filmmaking competition that will team future filmmakers and engineering students.  

For more information about Entertainment Industries Council, log on to: www.eiconline.org.

Cynthia D. Miller is president of Miller.Omni.Media, Inc., a woman-owned small business specializing in strategic communications, marketing and media production. She can be reached at milleromnimedia@comcast.net.


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