Corey Fleischer ’05, ’08 M.S. mechanical engineering, zooms a homemade Wii-controlled car around his driveway by day, and rules the demolition derby by night. He geeks out about nanotechnology, blows up light bulbs in his microwave in the name of fun and science, and always seems to be concocting plans for his next big idea.
So, when the opportunity to appear on the Discovery Channel’s new engineering-based reality show, “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius,” arose the senior mechanical engineer at Lockheed Martin jumped at the chance to show off his skills.
The series, hosted by actor Kal Penn, launches on Wednesday, May 1st, with Fleischer among the 10-person cast of extreme DIY-ers each trying to out-engineer the other to win a $50,000 prize and an engineering dream job.
We sat down with the father of two to find out more about what makes him tick…and what to expect from his appearance on the show.
Q: How did you hear about BBT? And how crazy was it when you found out you were chosen for the cast?
A: I first heard about BBT through a good friend at work. My buddy forwarded me the call-for-applicants webpage which was announcing a new TV show looking for the Top Engineer. They wanted hands-on engineers with outgoing personalities. My buddy thought I was a good fit, and he even helped me write my application and recorded and edited my audition video. See the audition here.
When I found out I was picked, I flipped out! It was crazy at first to know that I got picked!…but then it quickly set in that I was going to be on TV…which I’ve never been before.
Q: Your brain is clearly constantly formulating new ideas. What’s your dream invention?
A: My dream invention would be some type of engineering toy set for young kids. I have a 6-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter and I’m always coming up with simple projects to show them engineering principles…they love it! I think all parents should introduce their kids to engineering at a really early age. Or, maybe I’d like to invent an laundry folding machine. Laundry folding and I don’t get along.
Q: I know you were a part of Mini-Baja (now SAE) at UMBC. How did that and other UMBC experiences help you get to where you are now?
A: Coming from UMBC, I feel like I hit corporate America with an unfair advantage. Participating in Mini-Baja had given me years of experience within/leading a technical team in a competition environment. Engineering is highly competitive, so that was huge. Additionally, my undergraduate and graduate studies under Dr. Mark Zupan gave me a strong background in material science that I apply toward all stages of engineering projects, from hardware selection to geometrical design to finish coatings.
Q: Tell us a little about your work at Lockheed Martin…and what you’d love to be doing in the future.
A: At Lockheed I get to work on several projects simultaneously. We have a large group here in Baltimore so there are always several projects going on that I’m able to support. I work under lots of smart guys…I love it here. As for the future, I just want to keep working on great projects with great people. As long as I continue to learn, I’ll be happy.
Q: You obviously can’t divulge the outcome of BBT, but what was one of your favorite parts of doing the show? How about challenges? Any nemeses we should look out for?
A: The design challenges were my favorite part of the experience. They were amazing! Every time they told us about a new challenge I thought, “I can’t believe someone’s going to pay me to build this!” Every challenge could be a paragraph on my resume…and I got to build eight!
The hardest part of the experience was being away from my kids. That was tough, but I knew they’d be proud, my son especially since he’s older. There was also a lot of drama that we all had to deal with, but I stayed out of it as much as I could. The whole experience was amazing! We pulled off some crazy accomplishments, and it’s going to be an amazing show. Nothing like this has ever been done.
Follow Corey on Twitter @coreyfleischer for updates and behind-the-scenes info about the show!