After eight weeks of keeping the outcome of reality show The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius secret, the finale is now out.
Amy Elliott suffered a disappointing blow when her winning bridge design failed to fully deploy, but she's not letting it get her down. "I don't feel bad because if you go after something inspiring and fail, it's better than going after something easy and failing," she said.
The Virginia Tech Ph. D. student spent seven weeks in California, away from her husband and delaying her graduation, to compete on the reality show looking for America's next great innovator. She's back without the $50,000 prize and dream job that went to the winner, but with more confidence than ever. "I don't fear trying something new, that's the biggest thing I learned was try something new, do some crazy idea," she said. "If you fail that means you're doing something innovative. You're bringing something new to the world that no one else has tried."
Elliott had many victories during the eight week series. Her blueprints won judge's pick five times. She was team captain four times and won every team she led. She says the coolest moment of her life came after her opponent was named the winner and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, a guest judge on the finale, approached her after the show.
"Buzz Aldrin came up to me and took me by the shoulders and said, 'I know what it's like to live in the shadow of another.' He was the second one on the moon, Neil Armstrong was the first, and he really wanted to be first. And so he took me by the shoulders and said that and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, Buzz Aldrin equated me to himself and gave me a hug.' You can't beat that. It's priceless.
Surprisingly, Amy once considered backing out of doing the show. She says she was packing for California when she worried she would do poorly and make women engineers look bad. Amy said her advisor told her the guys weren't holding their entire gender on their shoulders, so neither should she.