Lecture at CMU

It's been a while since I announced a new project. I have actually started getting a few emails from people who follow my website asking if I've stopped building with LEGO bricks. Stopped? No. Slowed down? Yes, recently. Other things have been keeping me busy (for example, I'm starting to prepare for the National Scrabble Competition this upcoming summer).

But I have not been completely LEGO-idle.

Recently I gave a couple of talks at Carnegie Mellon University about 'what I do'. CMU had an upcoming 'Carnival Weekend' on Campus (a big shindig for the students there). The theme of this year's festivities was 'Learning to be a Kid Again'.

My friend Tylesha, who is a student at CMU, mentioned my name to the Student Activities Board at the school, and, lo and behold, they asked me to come lecture to the students (LEGO bricks == kid theme == fun for all). Also, Ty is teaching a class in the Student College curriculum about LEGO bricks (yes, she is teaching a class about playing with LEGO [grin]). So, she also asked if I could talk to her students one day.

Not having ever been to Pittsburgh (home of Carnegie Mellon), and not having caught up with Tylesha since Brickfest 2003, I was easily lured up North with the promise of paid airfare and an honorarium for my lecture time.

The speech was to be about one hour long, and it was mainly just me talking about my 'job' and giving a virtual tour of my website, fielding questions from the students as I babbled along.

Before the lecture, however, I spent three hours in the student 'commons' area playing with bricks and encouraging students to do likewise (the photo at the top of this page shows Tylesha and I goofing about at the table of bricks). The Activities Board actually provided the buckets of miscellaneous bricks for us to build with. Being a rather last minute expedition, all I brought to display were two small models: my Parrot and Santa Claus. Actually, only the former did I carry on the airplane with me; the latter I shipped.

You'd think that by now I'd learn how to ship unglued models well enough.


Turns out that Santa has very little internal support (it had been some time since I had constructed him). I did not pack him tightly enough (and putting a large roll of duct tape loose in the box did not help matters).

Santa was quite damaged upon arrival and unpacking. If I had any concerns about what I'd be doing for the three hours before the lecture, that was solved: I had to rebuild Saint Nick.

All in all, though, the whole day went well. I got Santa repaired. I spoke at both appointments, and I got to visit a city I'd never been to before.

The only oversight was that I forgot to get Ty to snap pics of me actually speaking at either talk.

Oops. Just imaging a photo of me in a dark room with my website projected behind me on a screen.

I should thank Tylesha, Carnegie Mellon University, and espcially Chris Smoak of the Student Activities Board.

Finally, the university newspaper, The Tartan, ran an article about my visit.

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