A new IMAX film challenges everyone to think differently about adjectives like “fastest,” “strongest,” and “tallest,” while inspiring a new generation to think about alternative career paths.
Dream Big: Engineering Our World celebrates the human ingenuity behind technological marvels large and small and shows how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. From the Great Wall of China and the Acropolis to space exploration, Dream Big is packed with epic moments of engineering grandeur. Audiences will be thrilled by the dizzying views of cloud-tickling skyscrapers to white-knuckle trips rocketing alongside experimental vehicles.
When Dream Big premieres Feb. 17, at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater, however , one the most-engrossing stories it depicts will take place just 39 inches off the ground and at speeds that would barely raise the eyebrows of a crossing guard.
Through the six-story lens of Chattanooga’s biggest screen, viewers will watch 14 students from Houston High School of Science and Technology as they travel half the world away to compete in the 2015 World Solar Challenge Race in Australia.
Thousands of miles from their home in Houston, Ms., the students pit their solar-powered car, Sundancer, against the perils of a 3,000-kilometer (1,800-mile) race between Darwin and Adelaide. In the end, Sundancer won its vehicle class by covering 1,736 miles — 341 miles farther than the next-closest competitor — at an average speed of about 40 miles an hour.
“In the World Solar Challenge, we compete with extremely expensive cars, built by the best universities across the world, and we are simply a group of high school students with a car that costs less than most of the cars there,” said Malik Lawrence, one of the Houston High students who competed in the 2015 race. “After winning our division in the World Solar Challenge, I realized I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to.”
Lawrence and four other Houston students featured in Dream Bigwill be in Chattanooga for the premiere of the film at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater. They will share their experiences being part of a giant screen film while inspiring others to dream big. “Our students realized that they can set, and achieve, really high goals for themselves,” said educator Keith Reese, the Sundancer Team advisor. “Dream Big is a reminder to everyone that the impossible is really possible; it just takes a determined effort. It also reminds us that no matter where you come from, or what limitations we might have, we are only limited by our own imagination.”
The students’ triumphant victory — the first high school team to do so in the race’s history — is just one of many amazing moments inDream Big 3D, which features narration by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges and bills itself as “the first big-screen film to answer the call of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiative.”
Through interviews with engineers and thrilling footage shot by veteran giant screen studio MacGillivray Freeman Films, Dream Big 3D showcases the passion that drives today’s engineers and inspires the young minds that will solve tomorrow’s problems.
“Teachers, museums, and parents are looking for ways to get kids not just exposed to but also really turned on by science and engineering,” said Director Greg MacGillivray. “We wanted to see if we could bring something new to that effort with an entertaining, visually spectacular film … that energizes kids of all kinds, including girls and minorities, to think about engineering as something that might be an exciting thing to do with their lives and their way to make a mark on the world.”
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be available over the next decade, but two million may go unfilled due to a gap in required skills. A film like Dream Big 3D could be the inspirational spark that encourages more kids to pursue a rewarding career in one of these fields. “The modern manufacturers of today need skilled people who can operate, maintain and troubleshoot their high-tech equipment,” said Mary Beth Hudson, vice president and site manager for Wacker Polysilicon North America. “To compete globally, Wacker—and companies like Wacker—need an educated workforce to operate their plants successfully. This is why we support advanced technical training programs, and why we are working with our local educators to help students prepare for these rewarding career opportunities.”
Dream Big 3D takes steps toward inspiring the next generation of problem solvers by showcasing abundant examples of creative engineering tackling complex issues. Viewers will watch bridge builders connect isolated villages in the Third World, see how twisted architecture can help a building defy the wind and root for a team of plucky high schoolers as they compete against groups from elite schools in a NASA-sponsored robotics competition.
The film was produced in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Bechtel Corporation and is being presented locally by Wacker. Its premiere on Feb. 17 dovetails with Chattanooga Engineers Week, which runs Feb. 19-25 and which aims to “raise public awareness about engineering and the contributions that engineers make to society.” A complete schedule of E-Week activities in Chattanooga can be found online.
Dream Big 3D will be shown daily at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater at noon and 4 p.m. with additional 7 p.m.screenings on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $11.95 for adults, $9.95 for children (ages 3-12). For the best value, an IMAX Club Pass offers a year of unlimited screenings of all 45-minute IMAX documentaries and discounts for guest tickets, feature film tickets and concessions.
To purchase tickets or an IMAX Club Pass, visit tnaqua.org/imax.