The hit USA Network TV show Burn Notice wrapped up its second annual Burn Notice Science Challenge earlier this month. The contest targets high school students and asks them to come up with some kind of new science technology that the characters on Burn Notice would benefit from.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it chronicles the life and trials of Michael Weston, a former CIA agent. Weston was once “burned,” meaning that he was dumped by the CIA and had to fend for himself. In this final season, Weston and his gang of rogue spies based in Miami are back working with the CIA again.
Some might equate Burn Notice to a present day MacGyver. Throughout the show Weston tells the viewing audience what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, talking about the toys and gadgets that he is playing with.
As for the contest, it’s put on by USA Network and a prestigious group of scientists judge it. The shows creator Matt Nix said in a statement, “I was blown away by all the creative, clever entries we received – these are some seriously brilliant kids. STEM has always been a passion of mine, and I’m thrilled we were able to give these students a chance to demonstrate their talents in this area.”
The USA Network is no stranger to innovation, startups, and technology. USA Networks founder Kay Koplovitz is also the founder of SpringBoard, a women-centric accelerator/incubator hybrid helping women with their startups. She is also a frequent speaker at startup events including SXSW.
This year’s big winner in the Science Challenge is Craig Owenby, a 2013 graduate of North Gwinnett High School outside of Atlanta. He created a laser communications device that utilizes fluctuating brightness and electrical impulses to audibly transmit messages from more than 100 feet away or around a wall.
It’s our understanding that the technology would actually work, and it would be ideal for situations where cell phone or other radio wave signals were disrupted or unable to penetrate. It would also be a good alternative when you were worried about your messages being intercepted.
The producers of Burn Notice must have felt the same way. Owenby won a $10,000 scholarship and a paid trip to the set to meet the shows stars and creators.