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Can Katie Correll Become King of the Nerds?

on Mon, 01/13/2014 - 10:47

The CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory has not only dominated the ratings of network television over the past few years but has found equal success in syndication on cable channel TBS. Intent on capitalizing on the Big Bang Theory juggernaut, as well as the growing interest in Geek Culture in general, TBS launched a new reality show in January 2013 in which self-proclaimed geeks compete in various challenges in order to achieve the title of “King of the Nerds.” Using a spin on the HBO drama Game of Thrones, the newly crowned victor takes their seat on the Throne of Games, while original nerds Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong from the 1980s film Revenge of the Nerds serve as hosts.

King of the Nerds is now ready to launch its second season on January 23, 2014, and amongst the eleven contestants is Katie Correll, a graduate student at the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center. In addition to her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and desire to pursue her doctorate in robotics upon completion of her current studies, the Bucks County native is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, allowing Correll to bring a solid STEM background to King of the Nerds. “Katie was really amazing because she is this person who had this science bent, as well as the entertainment bent, as well as just being a great personality,” co-host Curtis Armstrong told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “She comes off so well on the show for that reason. It’s a very unusual mix of talents that she has.”

That mix includes a full head of purple hair. “It’s been purple for two years,” Katie Correll explained to the Post-Gazette. “I kind of figured in grad school, I didn’t have to look professional.” Her experiences at the Entertainment Technology Center also paid off when it came to appearing on King of the Nerds. “I have always felt like the ETC is like a reality show, because every two weeks they give you this new assignment where you have to do it really quickly and then present and see how the judges like it,” she says. Correll likewise draws similarities between the Carnegie Mellon University campus and the California College complex known as Nerdvana that serves as the home base for King of the Nerds. “It really felt the same, down to the fact that we had a popcorn machine in Nerdvana and we have one at ETC,” she adds. “King of the Nerds felt like a continuation of ETC in so many ways.”

Like any reality show, King of the Nerds is filled with competitions that test one’s ingenuity and intellectual capabilities, albeit with a geek twist. The first season of the series, for instance, included a life-size chess match, superhero trivia contest and a race involving remote-controlled golf carts. A single contestant is eliminated after each episode, meaning that social skills are also a necessity as each player builds trust, friendship and allies as the series goes along. For Katie Correll, it was that last part that was the most enjoyable.

“It was like going to nerd summer camp,” she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We had more fun when we weren’t competing against each other because we all wanted to just hang out and be friends. These are people I would have been instant friends with if we’d met in the real world anyway, so we had a blast filming.”

Now residents of the Steel City can have a “blast” watching the second season of King of the Nerds while rooting for one of its own residents to claim her seat on the Throne of Games.

Anthony Letizia (January 13, 2014)

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