Case Study:

Dream Big

how MacGillivray Freeman’s storytelling helped the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) change the image of engineering and inspire kids to pursue careers in engineering.


Bechtel Corporation
United Engineering Foundation
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)

The story.

Learn how MacGillivray Freeman partnered with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Bechtel Corporation to produce a film that became the centerpiece of a massive educational marketing campaign, designed to reach families, teachers and kids of all ages and backgrounds – especially girls!

The need.

ASCE and Bechtel Corporation were looking for a media partner to help create a film and multi-facet educational outreach program that would educate students on the inspiring work of engineers and how engineers work together to solve the world’s challenges.

The solution.

MacGillivray Freeman Films lent their expertise to leverage the giant screen film format to create a massive global initiative to inspire students of all backgrounds to become the next generation of engineers. DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World features emotional and uplifting stories of the new faces of engineering.

MacGillivray Freeman collaborated with ASCE and Bechtel to coordinate film screenings with a regionally-activated global marketing and educational outreach effort. The campaign was designed to create an up swell of excitement, promotion and activity among engineering organizations, museums, educators and families.

The Dream Big Educational Outreach Program is the biggest campaign ever created around a film. The resources that MacGillivray Freeman created take the film from a visceral viewing experience to a fully interactive educational movement.
It includes:

  • 50 Hands-on Activities and 3 Engineering Design Challenges for kids to experience the fun of engineering first hand.
  • 12 lesson plans tied to NGSS to help K-12 teachers teach engineering.
  • 10 short educational videos that expand on stories featured in the film.

Activation events for Dream Big included:

  • Girls Night Out: mentoring program for girls that combined a screening of the film with hands-on activities with female engineers and undergraduates.
  • Year of the Engineer: program that linked the film with museums and community-wide programming for the whole year.
  • Museum Guide: guide outlining how museums and local engineers can collaborate in their community around the film.

The results.

The staggering results of the campaign point to the huge impact that real-life stories from the film had on the audience. The campaign generated:

More than 3 million have attended the film in the first two years in 85 theatres in 13 countries and in over 5000 private screenings in 22 countries held by ASCE

Projected viewership is 25 million people over the lifetime of the film

More than 250,000 people attended 3,000 special screenings in 22 countries held by ASCE members, Bechtel and other engineering orgs & universities

86% had a more positive view of engineering than before seeing the film

1.9 Billion impressions from online, print and TV

72% of kids are now interested in pursuing engineering careers

3 museums created a “The Year of the Engineer” Program that were designated by governors and mayors, resulting in $2 million in sponsorship dollars.

More than 10,000 girls have attended Girls Night Out events

Over 50 museums and engineering organizations held Engineering Week events and festivals with hundreds of engineer volunteers.

Our immersive giant screen 3D film, DREAM BIG: Engineering Our World helped ASCE educate and inspire students to consider careers in engineering.

The next step.

ASCE Mission: Get Dream Big Toolkits in Every Public School in the U.S.

Two years after the successful theatre launch of Dream Big: Engineering Our World, ASCE set out to continue inspiring children and set a goal to put a Dream Big DVD/ educational toolkit in every U.S. public school by the end of 2019. ASCE engineers have also committed to “adopt a school” in their community and will host hands-on activities and mentor students. As of May 2019, more than 75,000 DVDs have been sent to schools and the remaining 25,000 will be sent by fall, 2019.

  • Dream Big is living up to its name. It is unlike anything ASCE and its partners have ever done before. We’re delighted to see the film reaching a new and broader audience, with a global impact.”

    Tom Smith
    Tom SmithExecutive Director, ASCE
  • “I can’t stop talking about DREAM Big! I want every kid to see it. I really do think that this film will inspire a generation of kids (girls in particular) to become engineers. It is that powerful.”

    Betting Grud3rd Grade Teacher, Clear Springs Elementary, St. Louis
  • “Once again, the MFF team has produced a film that works on so many levels. It explains visually and verbally what engineers do, features female engineers (nice), takes the audience on adventures around the globe and is very inspirational. BRAVO!”

    Marlene Janetos
    Marlene JanetosVP Visitor Services, Marketing & Communications, Museum of Discovery and Science, Ft. Lauderdale
  • “Today we previewed Dream Big with our local sponsor (the Assoc. of Prof. Engineers & Geoscientists of Saskatchewan). It is such a wonderful film and the sponsor and staff loved it. They all want to become engineers (including the engineer)!! Plus, you know you’ve done your job when your sponsor is in tears!   Thank you for creating such a beautiful and inspiring film.”

    Sandy Baumgartner
    Sandy BaumgartnerChief Executive Officer, Saskatchewan Science Centre
  • “As a first-generation college graduate, I have found it quite difficult to explain engineering, my passion for advocacy, and desire to volunteer to my parents. Dream Big is not only an incredible film that highlights great projects, stories, and individuals, but it has also become a tool that I can use to explain engineering to my loved ones. It's almost impossible to watch the film and not leave feeling inspired!”

    Elizabeth Ruedas
    Elizabeth RuedasASCE Committee on Young Members
  • “How many times does a civil engineer get to go to a debut of an IMAX film that talks about the joy and wonder of engineering?”

    Norma Jean Mattei
    Norma Jean MatteiASCE President
  • “I’ve seen Dream Big 30-plus times now and shown it to thousands of students from many different schools across Los Angeles, and I still get choked up when Angelica [Hernandez, a featured engineer in the film] is telling her story about her teacher being a big supporter of hers,” Morales said. “Every time I get choked up, because it reminds me of my teachers who were huge mentors and support systems for me. Coming from a low-income area, it resonates with me so much. I tear up during the movie no matter how many times I’ve seen it – it’s ridiculous.”

    Monica MoralesLeader in the ASCE Los Angeles Younger Member Forum
  • “There couldn’t have been a more immersive or inspirational platform than the giant screen to tell our story and there couldn’t have been a better partner to work with to tell this story than MacGillivray Freeman Films.”

    Jane Howell Lombardi
    Jane Howell LombardiChief Communications Director, ASCE
  • “A fresh perspective on what it means to be an engineer”

    Parade Magazine
    Parade Magazine
  • "A rousing and ravishing call-to-engineering arms for future generations...It’s the sort of majestic educational film that every adult will want their child to see—and in all likelihood, will want to see themselves.”

  • "Visceral 3D thrills…The film is sure to pique grade-schoolers’ interest and encourage research and experimentation. Its what-if mix of physics, imagination and goodwill is an exhilarating conversation starter."

    The Hollywood Reporter
    The Hollywood Reporter