LEGOS: An Engineer’s (and Father’s) Perspective

LEGOS need no introduction.

We all know what LEGOS are. The vast majority of us have at least held one of those tiny plastic bricks in our hands. And for many of us, LEGOS were a memorable part of our childhood (and possibly adulthood too).

Whether you are an engineer or not, the story of LEGO is truly fascinating. Their operation is top-notch, driven mainly by robots and automated processes. Which also speaks to the improbable fact that when the box says that Police Station set I’m about to build has 1126 pieces, all different in color, size and function, those 1126 pieces are there. Their yield quality is incredibly high, adding to the satisfactory experience. We all expect the pieces inside the box create the fantastic image on the outside of the box, and LEGO delivers.

I grew up loving LEGOS. I loved the sets, completing pirate ships and police cars and gear and pulley driven Ferris wheels. To the same degree I loved the mix containers, which foster creativity, imagination, and countless hours of construction potential. I built castles and bridges and houses and vehicles and jails and thief hideouts and towers and…..you get the idea. The only limitations were my imagination and not having enough of the precise pieces I needed!

By degree, I am an engineer. I have worked in various industries and roles, including product design, quality, and product management. Each of those functions appreciate the LEGO machine for various reasons, but the kid in me shines through the most when I now open up one of these boxes with my son. At three years old, he passed the ‘Duplo stage’ a lot faster than the side of the box recommends, partially due to my excitement to share the experience of building intricate sets with him. His love of building, superheroes, cops and robbers, etc. had grown to the understanding I knew he would love the challenge and the result. Plus, he needs a functioning Avenger Tower to house his Hulk and Thor mini-figures. How could you not?

I was impressed with my son from the start. He can assemble these ‘big kid’ LEGOS, with some assistance from dad on the complicated sections. He loves to build a vehicle, then take a break to test it out. Then we build part of a structure, and take a break to make sure the superheroes or police officers will be proud to call it home before moving on to the next section. Watching his creativity unfold and his hand-eye coordination improve with each subsequent set is a beautiful thing to watch as a parent. Regardless of whether he becomes an engineer in twenty years, he is learning and polishing skills that will benefit him for life. This is the magic of LEGO, and other interactive, imaginative, idea-spawning toys such as Magformers and Lincoln Logs. He is building cognitive ability, unleashing his creative mind, and having the time of his life…all in unison.

We are already swimming in LEGO sets. He loves to build them all, break them apart, build them again, smash them in an epic superhero/villain battle, build them into something completely different…build, disassemble, repeat. The backstories he creates each time are worthy of network television. The fact that Hulk sometimes just wants to go hop in a camper with the police officers and drive to the Arctic set to see the polar bears…are storylines I could listen to all day. Part of the enjoyment in having an eclectic collection of sets is the way they interact in his mind, and the way the stories always end with the bad guy LEGOS landing in jail and the good guy LEGOS celebrating together.

LEGOS are an incredible toy option for kids…and adults. I am still amazed that our son can stroll into our local LEGO Store, and just build mini-figures for hours. This ability to create with his hands and invent a backstory for the characters never gets old. I’m sure it is only a matter of time before he convinces me we have to start getting into the Star Wars sets now…because why wouldn’t Darth Vader want to play with the Avengers and the LEGO CITY construction workers. It just makes sense.

Happy building,

MM

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