Escape from new york 2

Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline, MA


Dr. Deb Chachra

Professor, Olin College of Engineering

Escape From New York— Improving our infrastructure

Infrastructure is a marvel, meeting our basic needs and enabling lives of astounding ease and productivity that would have been unimaginable just a century ago. Yet across the U.S. and elsewhere, infrastructure systems are suffering from systemic neglect and the effects of climate change, with communities that are already marginalized often bearing the brunt of these failures. Before the film, Olin College of Engineering Prof. Deb Chachra will discuss how John Carpenter’s visionary dystopian nightmare illuminates this crisis and its solutions.

Coolidge Corner Theatre Brookline, MA

Film Synopsis

In 1997, when the U.S. president crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in to rescue him.

    In 1997, a major war between the United States and the Soviet Union is concluding, and the entire island of Manhattan has been converted into a giant maximum security prison. When Air Force One is hijacked and crashes into the island, the president (Donald Pleasence) is taken hostage by a group of inmates. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell), a former Special Forces soldier turned criminal, is recruited to retrieve the president in exchange for his own freedom.

    Photo credit: Embassy Pictures
    Official site

    About the Speaker

    Deb Chachra is a professor at Olin College of Engineering with a technical background in engineering physics and materials science. She is also the author of How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our World (Riverhead/Torva, 2023), and she writes, thinks, builds, and speaks widely on themes of technology and society. As one of the earliest faculty at Olin College, Dr. Chachra has been deeply engaged in all aspects of undergraduate engineering education, including the design of learning experiences and programs, as well as educational research.

    Dr. Chachra’s work and ideas have been supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Autodesk Foundation, and others, and she received an NSF CAREER Award for research on engineering education. She has written for outlets including The Atlantic and Nature and a regular column for the American Society for Engineering Education’s Prism magazine, as well as her own long-running online newsletter, Metafoundry. Dr. Chachra’s technical background is in engineering physics and materials science, with a focus on biological systems; prior to joining the faculty of Olin College, she was a postdoctoral associate at MIT.