Tech on TV

New Mexico Tech is making a name for itself through popular culture.

New Mexico Tech will be the star of a new six-episode cable series that begins airing Saturday, June 13, on the TruTV cable network.Pilgrim Productions set up camp in Socorro for four months over the summer of 2008 to film the show, which was planned to coincide with the re-release of the Warner Bros.’ cartoons of the roadrunner and coyote. The premise of the series was rather simple: If Wile E. Coyote had had a proper engineering education, would his harebrained contraptions been able to catch the roadrunner? 

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 Man vs Cartoon Television Series Filmed at NMT

Two teams of engineers recreated 10 stunts, which will be featured in six hour-long episodes. The show will air at 9 p.m. every Saturday from June 13 to July 18 on TruTV, formerly known as CourtTV.

For the mini-series, two teams of Techies were given problems to solve. One team included seven students. They conducted three experiments and tests – the Coyote Contraption, Rocket Skates and Fan Skates. The other seven experiments were conducted by EMRTC staff engineers.

For the series, two teams of Techies were given problems to solve. One team included seven students – Tyson Joe, Carolyn Eggert-Pehap, Justine Davidson, John Korbin, Daniel Preston, Jessica Elias and Stefan Marr.  The other team included EMRTC staff engineers Mike Stanley, Leonard Garcia, Jason Metzger, Robert Abernathy, and Aubrey Farmer, along a host of EMRTC support technicians

Jeopardy LogoJeopardy!, the nation’s longest-running game show, has aired a series of video clues. A film crew from the game show visited campus over the summer to film the clues that were aired in October in the category “Explosives.”

Tech’s most high-profile exposure so far has been the popular MythBusters program on Discovery Channel, which has filmed three episodes at New Mexico Tech. 

Mythbusters Logo

The MythBusters exposure will certainly be eclipsed when “Man Vs. Cartoon” begins its six-episode run in the fall of 2009. To coincide with the re-release of its classic cartoons, Warner Bros. wondered if Wile E. Coyote’s wacky devices could have worked had he employed real engineering practices.

A 16-person film crew spent three months in Socorro during the summer of 2008 filming a team of students and researchers from EMRTC recreating those stunts, explosions and impacts.  Tech’s national exposure isn’t all fun and games, though.

A National Geographic crew followed geophysics professor Dr. Jeffrey Johnson to Guatemala in December 2008. That expedition to the active Santiaguito Volcano will result in a “Wild Adventures” show in the fall of 2009.

Albuquerque TV stations – especially KRQE – have visited Socorro numerous times over the past year to film news events and feature stories. Featured topics have included the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, a visit from Sen. Pete Domenici, a preview of Explosives Camp and interviews with students about Tech’s national rankings.

Click here to read a story and see video about Tech from KRQE News.

A new documentary, “Belly of the Beast,” focuses on military and construction machinery. One episode features Romero explaining reactive armor and demonstrating how tank armor uses small explosive charges to repel incoming artillery.

The media onslaught really began with MythBusters. Two episodes filmed in August 2008 were aired in April 2009. Another test was filmed in January 2009 and will air later this year.

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Mythbusters episode: Demolition Derby, explosive welding

 Dr. Van Romero, Vice President of Research and Economic Development, is the driving force behind the MythBusters visits to Socorro. He was a guest expert in a 2007 episode filmed in California.

“I went to San Francisco and appeared on that show as an expert,” Romero said. “While I was there, I said, ‘Gee, you ought to come out to New Mexico Tech sometime’. They typically use a quarry in Northern California and an old airstrip in Alameda for their explosions, but they can only do a few hundred pounds of explosives. I told them that if they want to do a really big explosion, they need to come to Socorro.”

At a student forum October 9, 2008, students had a series of questions for Tech administrators about the MythBusters visit. Romero said the budding partnership between the show and the university is a natural fit.

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Mythbusters episode: Demolition Derby, high-speed sled to pancake a car

“This is a win-win for MythBusters and for New Mexico Tech,” Romero said. “They get access to our state-of-the-art technology and we get access to an audience that fits the demographic of future New Mexico Tech students.”

“We were so thrilled with the entire shoot,” coordinating producer Linda Wolkovitch said in August. “As we say in Australia, we were ‘gobsmacked.’ We were absolutely amazed with the facilities. We want to build a special relationship between MythBusters and New Mexico Tech and we look forward to coming back.”

Romero said everyone associated with the show indicated that they had a positive experience in Socorro last summer. He’s said he’s especially pleased that they are returning to New Mexico Tech so soon.

“One of the great things about MythBusters is that it’s inspired children to become interested in science, math and education,” Romero said. “Plus, during filming we discovered that MythBusters has a true cult following among New Mexico Tech students, which really isn’t too surprising.”