A remarkable trajectory, the power of a name & the Next MacGyver


1101110*: This fall marks the 1101110st anniversary of the founding of USC Engineering! Well, at least in binary notation. For some of us, the more comprehensible number would be 110 years of USC Engineering. By happy circumstance, this milestone will be highlighted with the upcoming publication of the history of the school since the late 1950s. Our venerable Emeritus Professor George Bekey has embarked in the last two years in a labor of love, to document the rapid rise of USC Viterbi, in his new book, A Remarkable Trajectory. Eloquently, and with his well-known wit, he traces the second half of our history. (The school’s history prior to that period was written by former Dean Robert Vivian, in a short monograph.) Bekey takes the reader on a fascinating journey that paints the evolution of USC Engineering from a regional engineering school to one of the best in the nation — and the world. Professors like George Bekey, Sol Golomb and many others who have spent their entire academic lives at USC have played a major role in driving — and now documenting — that transformation. The book can be ordered at

10: This fall also marks the 10th (00001010) anniversary of the naming of the Mork Family Department (MFD) of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, after a seminal $15M gift in the fall of 2005 by Viterbi alumnus and Chairman of the USC Board of Trustees John Mork and his family. That momentous occasion unified the closely allied areas of chemical engineering, materials science and petroleum engineering under one legendary name, the Mork name. Today, Mork faculty and student learn, research and innovate in a wide variety of subjects, from structural and functional materials, to polymers and soft matter, to reaction engineering, nanotechnology, and bioengineering, to energy and earth resources and to advanced computing. MFD stands at the most important intersections of today’s global challenges, from sustainability to health to enriching life. (Please see Mork By The Numbers for more on the remarkable transformative effect of the power of the Mork family’s name and generosity.)

5: This is the number of winners from a field of 2,000 for “The Next MacGyver” competition, held on July 22, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Their charge: to write a script for a new TV show starring a female engineer. The goal: To change the conversation about what is engineering, who is an engineer, what they look like. Each finalist took home a $5,000 prize and was paired with a distinguished Hollywood mentor, including Anthony Zuiker of the CSI franchise, actress–producer America Ferrera of Ugly Betty, and Star Trek and Scorpion writer and producer Roberto Orci.

The yearlong contest was co-organized by USC Viterbi, the National Academy of Engineering and MacGyver creator Lee Zlotoff. We hope that one or more of our finalists’ visions for a strong female engineer lead eventually makes it to the TV screen, galvanizing women everywhere to become the new face of engineering and breaking stereotypes. We are very proud that in this year’s entering fall class, the percentage of female engineering freshmen stands at 38%, a historic high for the school and twice as large as the national average for female engineering undergraduates nationwide.

(Click here to learn more about “The Next MacGyver” competition.)

We live in transformative times. The carpe diem is here, every day, every hour, every second. And we are committed to keep seizing it for the benefit of our society and the nation.

*There was an editorial error in the print version of this text that has been corrected here.