10 Movies Every Engineering Student Should Watch

Movies have a way of broadening the perspective. They are a great way for students to escape for a few hours and get some fresh insight into the world. Movies with engineering concepts will specifically help the students broaden their understanding of science and technology in ways that books cannot.

Concepts like time travel and future technologies are widely covered in movies. Watching these concepts in movies challenges students to look for the scientific connections in them. It also helps them break the social norms and try out new things, just like the characters in the movie do.

Besides the love of science, these movies also help bring out students’ creativity and passion for engineering. These are some of the movies that will help students learn more about engineering and even spark their creativity in the process.

Good Movies to Motivate Engineering Students

The Imitation Game (2014)

The Imitation Game (2014)
The Imitation Game (2014) – Movie poster – Fair Use

This movie looks at the life of Alan Turing, a British mathematician who was one of the founding fathers of modern computing, and his involvement in World War II code-breaking. Turing played a large role in cracking the Enigma code that German submarines used to stay hidden during WWII, allowing Britain to know how many ships would be heading their way during any war zone.
The film centers around his fight against the government after being convicted of being gay, causing him to take his own life.
Engineering students will benefit from this movie because it gives an interesting look into a man that is often overlooked in the history of computer science. Additionally, it gives a great perspective on the ethical grey areas of working in this field.
Duration: 1hr 54min
Rating: PG-13

Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report (2002)
Minority Report (2002) – Movie poster – Fair Use

This movie brings together three unlikely heroes. Tom Cruise plays a police officer tasked to track down a serial killer. One of his favorite methods is to use police computers to create a three-dimensional model of the criminal he is tracking down and search for patterns between known criminals and potential ones.
Engineering students will benefit from this movie because it gives them insight into the many ethical dilemmas that modern technology can bring.
On top of that, students will learn a lot about the future of computers, which is one of the more important portions of an engineering degree.
Duration: 2hr 25min
Rating: PG-13

The Theory of Everything (2014)

This movie tells the story of British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who has had a severe disability for most of his life. He is forced to be assisted with some of his daily activities continuously. He knows that he will eventually come to a point where he can’t physically do this anymore.
After his wife passes away, however, he begins to rediscover himself. He becomes more engaged in science, and his intellectual abilities grow.
The film covers many topics that would be beneficial to engineering students. It discusses the many ethical responsibilities of building things like nuclear bombs and the idea of creation versus destruction.
Duration: 2hr 3min
Rating: PG-13

Hidden Figures (2016)

The official poster for the film Hidden Figures, 2016
Hidden Figures (2016) – Movie poster – Fair Use

This movie follows the story of three different black women who worked for NASA during the 1960s and 70s. They were all instrumental in the success of the space program, despite the fact that these women were often overlooked and excluded from many of the events.
The story begins by discussing the immense racism during this time, especially in fields dominated by white men. These three women had to outperform their colleagues. They also had to have exceptional leadership skills to stand up for themselves.
Engineering students will benefit from this movie because it gives them valuable insight into what it is like to struggle with oppression in such an exclusive field. Additionally, they can learn a lot about the racial discrimination that still exists during these times, which is incredibly relevant nowadays, with discussions on race and police brutality hitting the news every day.
Duration: 2hrs 7min
Rating: PG

3 Idiots (2009)

3 Idiots (2009)
3 Idiots (2009) – Movie poster – Fair Use

This movie tells the story of three college students who all go through a similar experience. They take part in an engineering competition and fail miserably.
They then meet a guy who takes them to India on a spiritual journey and introduces them to a way of life that will be extremely beneficial for them as engineers. The trip also helps them see that there is more out there than what society teaches about success.
Engineering students will benefit from this movie because they can learn more about the general public and how society views people who choose to break away from the status quo.
They can also learn a great deal about how to be successful in school, including how it is possible to overcome challenges and how to keep going after having failed.
Duration: 2hr 50min
Rating: PG-13

The Fly (1986)

In this movie, a scientist named Seth Brundle is experimenting with teleportation on mice. Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of transporting himself along with the mice and ends up becoming a deformed monster.
The movie discusses all sorts of ethical dilemmas that come with different ways of mixing genetics with science. It also talks about how life often changes when we move away from what society tells us is normal or right.
Engineering students will find this movie quite educating because it goes into the invention process. Besides that, it also talks about the role society plays in influencing the lives of its people, which is quite important to know for those who want to become engineers that are trying to make improvements for society.
Duration: 1hr 36min
Rating: PG-R

Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man (2008) movie poster
Iron Man (2008) – Movie poster – Fair Use

This movie tells the story of Tony Stark, a wealthy engineer who is kidnapped by terrorists and held prisoner. The terrorist demands that he build them a weapon, but he refuses. He then attempts to build a weapon for himself, but it fails. He is forced to come up with something else.
At this point in the movie, the viewer can see the tension between what Tony wants and what his role in life has become. He knows that he can’t live without his inventions. He feels trapped, and he will do anything to be able to use his inventions in the same way that they were meant to.
This movie is quite enlightening for engineering students as it shows how detrimental technology can be to people’s lives. They can also learn a lot about the moral implications of building such powerful objects.
Duration: 2hrs 6min
Rating: PG-13

Interstellar (2014)

Interstellar (2014) movie poser
Interstellar (2014) – Movie poster – Fair Use

This movie follows the story of a physicist and his daughter traveling through space to save the human race from extinction.
The major concept of the movie is time dilation, which is the concept that time is relative to your movement.
Engineering students will find this movie rather enlightening because it is a great example of how humans can still make huge contributions to society. There is a lot of hope instilled in this film, which is something that engineering students will relate to.
Duration: 2hrs 49min
Rating: PG-13

The Martian (2015)

This movie is about a man who is left for dead on Mars and must use his wits to survive.
While he tries to solve the problem, he relies on his knowledge of engineering and mathematics to help him get through.
Engineering students will find this movie very inspirational because they can see that even though they may be in an unfamiliar environment, it doesn’t mean that they can’t figure things out and find solutions.
Duration: 2hr 24min
Rating: PG-13

The China Syndrome (1979)

The China Syndrome (1979)
The China Syndrome (1979) – Movie poster – Fair Use

This movie is about a nuclear power plant worker that becomes aware of an accident at the plant. He is forced to find out what has happened and what happened to his wife before he can save himself and everybody else.
This is a movie that not only focuses on how important the nuclear industry is but also on the ethical implications that come with it. It also discusses the idea of sacrifice for the greater good, which will be very useful when students need to make difficult ethical decisions in their engineering careers.
Duration: 2hr 2min
Rating: PG