6 Wonderful Engineering-Oriented Movies

Our hardworking staff at the The Engineering Daily recently compiled the following list of movies that would interest engineers. The research simply involved analyzing plotlines,  themes and the connection of the director to engineering to simply come us with a list of movies lacking the cliché love  stories and half-baked attempts at intellectual engagement. The following list is simply the six best movies that would be highly entertaining for any engineer.

No highway in the sky

The premise is as follows: Theodore Honey is an aeronautical engineer sent to Labrador from London to examine the wreckage of a new passenger plane designed by his company. His theory is that the planes are susceptible to metal fatigue after a specific amount of time in the air. The absent minded Honey boards the Reindeer class plane and only realizes that this particular plane is due to fail in the next few hours after the plane is airborne. He decides to warn the crew and creates an incident regardless of whether he is right or wrong.

We like the movie because it does not have the typical chase scenes, blood or gratuitous skin. The movie is just an engrossing human story, a hallmark of Neville Shute’s writing.

Flight of the Phoenix

Flight of the Phoenix, also by Jimmie Stewart, along with a top notch cast is an engaging story about a group of men stranded in the desert and how they “engineer” a way out.  Picture this interesting premise: a cargo plane goes down in a sandstorm in the Sahara with less than a dozen men on board. One of the passengers is an airplane designer who comes up with the idea of ripping off the undamaged wing and using it as the basis for an airplane they will build to escape.

Flash of Genius

Now for a more recent movie that is based on the true story of college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns’ long battle with the U.S. automobile industry. Flash of Genius tells the tale of one man whose fight to receive recognition for his ingenuity would come at a heavy price. But this determined engineer refused to be silenced, and he took on the corporate titans in a battle that nobody thought he could win.

We like this movie not just because it is a well played little-guy-fights-back-against-the-big-corporation type of movie, but it also provides an epic story on ingenuity, family values and sanity.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

Perhaps one of those movies that every civil engineer should watch, The Bridge on the River Kwai is about British prisoners of war during World War II who are ordered to build a bridge to accommodate the Burma-Siam railway. Their instinct is to sabotage the bridge but, under the leadership of Colonel Nicholson, they are persuaded that the bridge should be constructed as a symbol of British morale, spirit and dignity in adverse circumstances. At first, the prisoners admire Nicholson when he bravely endures torture rather than compromise his principles for the benefit of the Japanese commandant Saito.  He is an honorable but arrogant man, who is slowly revealed to be a deluded obsessive. He convinces himself that the bridge is a monument to British character, but actually is a monument to himself, and his insistence on its construction becomes a subtle form of collaboration with the enemy.


At night and on weekends, four men in a suburban garage have built a cottage industry of error-checking devices. But, they know that there is something more. There is some idea, some mechanism, some accidental side effect that is standing between them and a pure leap of innovation. And so, through trial and error they are building the device that is missing most. However, two of these men find the device and immediately realize that it is too valuable to market. The limit of their trust in each other is strained when they are faced with the question, If you always want what you can’t have, what do you want when you can have anything?

The Dam Busters

Finally, we are happy to officially proclaim The Dam Busters as an engineer’s war movie.  The Dam Busters is the story about British engineer Barnes Wallace and his development of a bouncing bomb used to attack hydroelectric dams critical to Germany’s war production in WWII.  The special effects are okay by 1950s standards, but still intriguing and well-acted.

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  1. 3 Idiots! It’s hilarious (about three guys studying engineering, the family and educational pressure they go through and the flaws in the way we learn) yet enlightening movie. One of the best movies I have watched and can change the way you think, learn and even–maybe it seems far-fetched but I will take the risk–live your life.

  2. what about Tesla he was a great mechanical and electrical engineer. it is not the most interesting movie but if you admire a genius that was way ahead of his time and is responsible for a most of our modern technology that we use today and moral integrity then why not include this movie
    (The Secret Of Nikola Tesla)

  3. Oh wonderful better i would say unique listing. It could more be called as 6 wonderful civil engineering movies rather than 6 engineering… It would be more specific isn’t it as it all(highway, bridge, dams) seems to be from that field.

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