“Pure Genius”—Engineering: Nom, Nom, Nom

Bobby Miller

The episode opened at the famous Santa Monica pier in California, adorned with Ferris wheels and other attractions. Kal Penn explained to the contestants that their goal was to produce a fully-automated machine capable of feeding the masses in a short amount of time. This technology will be crucial as the world’s population continues to rise.

However, before the engineers began the Blueprint Challenge, the judges announced that they have narrowed down the potential winner of the Wild Card to two people—Dan Moyers and Gui Cavalcanti. Whoever wins the Wild Card has another shot at winning the grand prize of $50,000 and a chance to work at WET, which boasts water and fire-based designs.

Although Cavalcanti has proven that he is a clever engineer, the judges ultimately reject him. That makes the infamous Moyers the Wild Card.

Nvate Big Brain Theory Pure Genius by Discovery Channel, innovation Mark Fuller, WET

Although I don’t think he deserved the spot, I pity Gui Cavalcanti.

Luckily, the eliminated contestants will be able to shoot for a Judge Award prize of $20,000—not bad.

For the Blueprint Challenge, Andrew Stroup is the runner-up due to his creative design. Although this is his first time being the team leader, he is not nervous. Elliott is the winner, making her a team leader for the third time.

This week, the red team consists of Stroup, Joel Ifill, Moyers, Eric Whitman and Alison Wong. The blue team consists of Elliott, Joe Caravella, Cavalcanti, Corey Fleischer and Tom Johnson.

The Red Team’s Preparation

Team leader Stroup wanted to go with his panini machine, though some of the engineers, such as Wong, were concerned that it’s too complicated to pull off. Others contended that, if they want to win, they need to stretch themselves with complexity. The machine was to consist of three, small rotating discs sitting on a rotating dish. The rotating dish would sit on a table that had a blade, one that would raise and lower itself to cut the meat, cheese and breads in the discs—making 27 possible sandwich combinations. Below it, there would be a rotating table with four panini presses. Once the panini is ready, a spatula would automatically push it onto the patron’s plate.

Nvate Big Brain Theory Pure Genius by Discovery Channel, innovation Mark Fuller, WET

Well, the red team has all sorts of problems. While futurist guest judge Brian David Johnson thinks their design looks cool, they’re falling behind. Stroup thought they would have it finished in three days with two days left to test and tweak it, but now they’re struggling just to get it finished at all. He clearly underestimated the difficulty of this task.

They have to narrow down the number of possible sandwich combinations, and they just barely have a finished project.

The Blue Team’s Preparation

The blue team wanted to make something sweet, so they came up with desserts at first. However, they ended up with a machine that made pancakes. At the top of the machine, there would be six dispensers for batter and six smaller dispensers for candy, blueberries, peanut butter or chocolate. It would squirt onto the first tier of griddles. Once that side is fully cooked, the griddles would flip and drop the pancakes to the second tier of griddles, where the other side would be cooked. They would then be flipped onto plates, hot and ready to be devoured. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Nvate Big Brain Theory Pure Genius by Discovery Channel, innovation Mark Fuller, WET

While the guest judge thinks their design is kind of boring, it really impresses Penn. CEO Mark Fuller believes the team members are maturing to where they use ideas that actually work rather than ones that are unrealistically flashy.

The team is able to finish with plenty of time to spare. Cavalcanti is nervous that their design might be too simple. If the other team’s product works too, the fancier one will prevail. Plus, Elliott knows her neck is on the line if her team loses.

The Test: Feeding Frenzy Fight

Once both teams have their machines up and running, Penn invites a crowd of hungry people to come sample their food. People love watching the blue team’s pancake machine squirt batter, flip pancakes, and more—all on its own. Christine Gulbranson commented that it is complicated, but they have made it look elegant and simple. Plus, the judges and crowd believe the pancakes taste good.

The red team, however, has trouble. Just as Wong feared, the meat and cheese are not falling onto the bread properly once sliced, so their team members have to go to the back and align everything themselves. In short, they have failed to make their machine fully automated. However, Moyer’s design for the panini pressing table works correctly because everything rotates at the right speed, and the spatula slides the sandwich onto the plate just fine.

Once the feeding frenzy is complete, the judges announced that the blue team won since their design was fun to watch and entirely efficient. While the judges liked the red team’s idea, it was simply too complicated to be fully automated in such a short amount of time.

The judges announced that Whitman, who felt overworked with all the electronics and programming, is safe. Moyers and Stroup are eliminated, but they can still compete for the $20,000 Judge Award prize.

Nvate Big Brain Theory Pure Genius by Discovery Channel, innovation Mark Fuller, WET

The remaining contestants are Elliott, Fleischer, Johnson and Whitman. Elliott has been team leader three times and never lost any of those competitions. Plus, she has worked well with others, except for Moyers, and listened to everyone’s ideas. I think she could win this competition.

Fleischer has never been on a losing team, and he has shown himself to be friendly, good leader. He has also shown his engineering prowess, leadership skills and cooperative attitude.

Johnson has done his tasks properly, but he has never been a leader, so I question whether or not he can win this competition. Can he come up with original ideas and lead a team? We simply do not know.

Nvate Big Brain Theory Pure Genius by Discovery Channel, innovation Mark Fuller, WET

Maybe we’ll find out next week when the contestants have to bring a speeding car to a safe stop. Two more of our engineers will be eliminated, so it will be the second-to-last episode.

To watch the full sixth episode, visit the “Pure Genius” website.

Also, all the episodes can be purchased individually for $1.99 on the show’s official YouTube page.

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