When Cal Walsh, BS ’10, enrolled at The University of Texas, he was building on an interest in aeronautics and engineering.
Now a 24-year-old graduate, he’s found a dream job where he’ll literally be building — with Legos.
Walsh beat out more than 100 other Lego lovers in a competition last weekend to be named master model builder at the Legoland Discovery Center opening in March at Grapevine Mills Mall in the Dallas area.
The position, Walsh says, is perfect for his skill set. While he had been looking for typical engineering jobs, he admits he was just as interested in getting away from engineering to do something more hands-on, playful, and people-oriented.
With Legoland, he’ll not only be building the giant seasonal Lego displays, he’ll also be in charge of the master builder workshop where visitors can learn some of his insider building tips. He’ll also visit schools around the area and maintain the Miniland made of Legos.
“I love that it’s going to be a very creative, challenging, hands-on, active job,” Walsh says. “I’ll get to deal with the public and kids, and at the same time, it will be very structured and engineering-minded.”
It’s been a whirlwind for Walsh, who last week was looking toward the Cockrell School of Engineering’s career fair. He had Lego on his radar as a possible employer, thanks to the suggestion of his parents, but knew nothing of the contest until reading it in the paper on Thursday.
He showed up Saturday at American Airlines Center with low expectations.
The Lego cowboy boot decorated with stars and a spur that he built in 30 minutes got him into the second round of about 50. Forty-five minutes later his royal flush of cards spelling out “Go Mavs” pushed him up to the top 15.
On Sunday, Walsh and 15 other competitors brought their best Lego-building A-game to Grapevine Mills Mall for the finals. A crowd of parents and children cheered them on as they were instructed to build in one hour something that described them.
Walsh likes to ride a unicycle and so decided to make one out of Legos. He completed it quickly, though, and began to solicit suggestions on what else to do from the children watching. A spacecraft, they suggested — flying into the unicycle. That seemed like a good fit to Walsh with his background in aerospace, so he went for it, building it on top of a C for his name.
At that point he decided to spell out his name, Cal. The unicycle became an A, and the L was a shoe to bring in his love of running. (He was president of the Texas Running Club as a student.) See what the final product looked like here.
The judges liked his project and his interaction with the children.
He’ll begin his new gig in early February to prepare for the opening March 30. In the meantime, Walsh says he was sent home with a big box of Legos to get practicing. “They tell me I need to be at the top of my game.”
Photos courtesy of Cal Walsh.