UT Grad Named Lego Master Model Builder

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Elliott Beazley
    These Lego masterpieces average about 4 feet in height.

    What does a college degree get you in this job market? At least one recent graduate won't have to find out.

    Cal Walsh, 24, gets to abandon the grind of sending out resumes thanks to his winning performance during a two-day competition to be named the Master Model Builder at a new Legoland Discovery Center opening soon in Grapevine.

    What that means is that he'll get a salaried job playing with the brightly-colored plastic bricks and inspiring younger kids to tap into their own inner builders.

    Assuming he passes a background check, the recent University of Texas graduate, who earned a degree in aerospace engineering, will become a $37,500-a-year Lego czar when the discovery center opens at Grapevine Mills Mall in March.

    For dozens of young devotees who watched the final hour of competition at the mall's food court Sunday, the entire experience was like, totally awesome. Only those age 18 and over were allowed to enter the contest.

    Nine of the finalists were men.

    The lone female designed a grand piano.

    Others turned their piles of colorful plastic bricks into a jeep, a circus performer and ice hockey gear.

    The finalists were told to design something that represented themselves, or their interests.

    Walsh's winning design: a glorified unicycle that also spelled out his first name.

    "I'm really big into keeping balance in my life," said Walsh, an avid unicycle rider, as well as a soccer player, artist, and now, Master Builder.

    The victory came after a one-hour competition among 10 finalists who beat out more than 100 others during preliminary competition Saturday.

    Organizers said they were looking for creativity and a buoyant personality, as well as technical skill from the Master Builder.

    Dallas will have the second Legoland Discovery Center in the U.S. when the Grapevine location opens. One opened in Chicago last year and another is scheduled for Atlanta next year.

    The centers are more of a hands-on experience with the toys than the theme park in California, according to Iain Scouller, general manager of the Grapevine location, which will eventually also include an aquarium.

    "It's much more than just playing with toys," he said.

    Young boys who watched the competition seemed utterly transfixed with the huge bins of plastic bricks.

    "That's all he's gotten for birthdays and Christmas for years," said Kay Christlieb, whose son, Will, 9, clutched a Lego catalog to his chest.

    Another spectator, Keaton Robinson, 12, of Farmer's Branch, said Walsh was the obvious star.

    "I think it's good that he won."