4 Popular TV Shows That Make Manufacturing Exciting For Everyone

Could more shows like these get America really interested in manufacturing and serve as an answer to the STEM crisis?

Some people are naturally drawn to manufacturing, engineering, and the processes and materials behind things we take for granted. The rest of us can easily become lost or disinterested when taking a deeper look into manufacturing, unless it’s presented in a way that’s appealing and even exciting. These four television shows certainly seemed to accomplish that. While some are no longer airing, they still get plenty of views as reruns and on the web. They continue to intrigue and enlighten people of all ages, including tomorrow’s engineers, materials scientists, and other future manufacturing professionals.

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1. Modern Marvels (The History Channel, H2)
One of first and longest running programs on the History Channel, Modern Marvels gives viewers insight into the history, as well as the science, engineering and production processes, behind industrial developments and familiar products. While the show covers a variety of topics, the ingenuity and inspiration behind those topics, and what works and how it works (as well as what doesn’t and why) are a regular focus.


2. How It’s Made (The Science Channel)
Produced and first aired in Canada in 2001, How Its Made eventually became popular in the U.K., U.S., Europe, and Asia. This program shows viewers how everyday goods and objects go from raw materials to finished product. Viewers get the opportunity to watch as their favorite things, from bubble gum to guitars—as well as essential industrial products, like incandescent light bulbs and spark plugs—rolled off the assembly line. The program focuses on many of the rhythmic, mechanical processes that are part of mass production, adding to its universal appeal.

3. America Revealed (PBS)
Exploring the innovations and interconnections of how the country works, PBS’s America Revealed provided viewers with an inside look at many of the industrial, supplier, and manufacturing systems that we take for granted. The four part mini series ran in spring of 2012. Modeled as documentary, each episode looked at different professional elements that keep the country running while seldom seen by most people: from producing, delivering and restocking grocery store goods, to the complexity behind our modern power grid and the energy it delivers on a constant basis.  The series was also praised for its use of large-scale aerial camera shots, which emphasized a new perspective on the workings of everyday, modern life.

4. Unwrapped (The Food Network)
Similar to How It’s Made, but centered on candy, snacks, and iconic foods beloved by kids and adults, Unwrapped gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite treats. The thirty-minute show has been airing since 2001 and is hosted by Marc Summers, who became familiar to audiences as the host of the popular Nickelodeon game show DoubleDare. While Unwrapped has spun off its own trivia game show, the origin program focuses on how ingredients are combined, prepared and packaged to become the familiar products on store shelves. Also like How It’s Made, Unwrapped entertains viewers with dynamic, mechanical processes that give a new, industrial perspective on products associated with enjoyment, fun, and nostalgia.


Honorable Mention: Wired Science (PBS)
Retired by PBS and not strictly about manufacturing or industrial production, Wired Science was based on the popular science and technology publication WIRED.  The weekly program delved into similar subjects through multiple segments, including “What’s Inside”: a break down of a mystery product by its components, chemicals, and ingredients, giving viewers new and surprising insights into familiar goods. Wired Science also spotlighted new technologies and equipment, discussing practical applications and uses.

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James Spader

Comes from a long line of American manufacturers and small business owners. His passions have always been journalism and World War II history. When not working, he enjoys cooking and competing in amateur chess tournaments.

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The Modern Marvels series on the History Channel happens to be one of my favorites. I also watch and love Ancient Aliens, In Search of Aliens, Ancient Discoveries, Ancient Impossible, America Unearthed and several other Tv series from that network. Do you notice a theme in this small list of series? I am an ancient history buff (if it wasn’t already obvious). I’m also a fan of shows about futuristic technology as well.


I have to check out the last 3 TV series (or documentaries). I like watching informative shows such as these. I’ve seen most of them, but as I mentioned, I have to admit to not ever having heard of three of these shows. I may have to catch it on the web or DVR it. There just isn’t enough time in the day to watch everything as it is scheduled. If you attempt to, you may not have time to achieve any goals.


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