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Aerospace Engineer Named Lego Czar 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the lord-of-lincoln-logs dept.
24-year-old Cal Walsh has put his aerospace engineering degree to good use by becoming the Lego Czar at The Legoland Discovery Center in Texas. Walsh beat out over 100 other Lego lovers for the $37,500 starting salary, and the chance to play with blocks for a living. From the article: "The 15 finalists were given an hour to design something that defined them and their interests. Walsh applied his engineering skills to build a spaceship, a unicycle and a running shoe that spelled out his first name. He gave credit to the children spectators at the event, who offered suggestions on what pieces to add to make the designs more interesting."
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Aerospace Engineer Named Lego Czar

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  • Seen his winning entry? Maybe that's why he can't get a job in his field.
    • by jdastrup (1075795)
      OK, maybe I was too harsh. He only had an hour.
    • My first thought was 'if that's the winner, how pathetic must the losing designs have been...'
      • by mcvos (645701)

        Mine too, initially, but I get it now. Firstly he had only an hour, so there's not much time for polish. And secondly, the reason he won was his interaction with kids that were offering suggestions on what to add. Personally I think that's an awesome criterium for this job.

        I think this news is excellent news for everybody involved: him, Lego, and the kids. I wish him the best of luck with his cool new job.

  • Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:15PM (#35012680) Homepage

    $37,500 starting salary... (Stupid new Slashdot layout breaks italics.)

    With an engineering degree and experience. Pathetic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hbean (144582)
      37,500 is pretty decent to have fun and play with legos for a few years, rather than work at some soul crushing corporate job.
      • by Tynin (634655)
        Still, it is going to take him forever to pay off his likely expensive tuition on that salary. However it would make a great 2nd job to have on the side.
        • by cduffy (652)

          Still, it is going to take him forever to pay off his likely expensive tuition on that salary. However it would make a great 2nd job to have on the side.

          Depends -- do we know which school he went to? It's still possible to pay your own way... or was a decade ago, anyhow.

      • by BluBrick (1924)

        37,500 is pretty decent to have fun and play with legos for a few years, rather than work at some soul crushing corporate job.

        True, but there's a fair chance he won't get his $37,500 if he refers to them as legos.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Lol..

        You probably still think that coders and testers in the video game field get to 'have fun and play video games' all day!

        Or that janitors at Disney world get to 'have fun and hang out with Mickey mouse' all day!

        It's a shit job, shit pay, and at any given time there's 100 more naive college grads willing to yank the rug from under you.

        Pro tip: nonsense titles like 'czar' and 'cast member' are a hint they're hiding something.

    • by mawe (1247174)

      Not so much considering he gets to play with Lego bricks all day long. It may be a waste of his talent, but hell, who cares if he enjoys it.

      How much do you earn and is your job as entertaining as his will be?

      I'd quit my (better payed) job not thinking twice if I get offered that position.

      • Re:Pathetic (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jahava (946858) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:27PM (#35012854)

        Not so much considering he gets to play with Lego bricks all day long. It may be a waste of his talent, but hell, who cares if he enjoys it.

        How much do you earn and is your job as entertaining as his will be?

        I'd quit my (better payed) job not thinking twice if I get offered that position.

        Here's a thought: get an engineering job, make three times that much in one year, and then take the next two years off to play with Legos.

        • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nadaka (224565) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:56PM (#35013196)

          Interesting. except doing that gets you exactly the same amount of money and only 2 years of lego play instead of 3. It also does not account for the fact that you would have to buy your own lego's.

          • It also does not account for the fact that you would have to buy your own lego's.

            And the fact that you now have a two-year gap in your resume when you apply to get a job again.

      • by mcvos (645701)

        I'd quit my (better payed) job not thinking twice if I get offered that position.

        I wouldn't, but only because I've got a mortgage and a kid.

        And I don't want to move to the US, of course.

    • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:26PM (#35012830) Journal

      He graduated a year ago, so his experience was looking for a job for a year, unsuccessfully I might add. You might have noticed that the economy is blowing steaming stinky glowing green monkey chunks at the moment.

      He might have garnered his degree into something with a starting wage somewhat higher, or he could have languished in the job market for another year or two and decided to give up and step out in front of a bus some day.

      Instead, he found something that he thought he'd love doing that covers his expenses and went for it.

      It's not all about the money for all of us, you know.

      • by Thud457 (234763) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:59PM (#35013226) Homepage Journal

        It's not all about the money for all of us, you know.

        How else are we to measure how favored one is by God ?

      • by nedlohs (1335013)

        You don't think part of the unsuccessfully bit might have been:

        Walsh said he had been searching for a job since he graduated a year ago. He narrowed his search to companies that he thought would satisfy his passion for creating and building things and his interest in working with people.

        "I focused my search on companies like Disney World and the Lego company," he said.

        Because Disney World and the Lego Company don't spring to the top of my list of companies with which to find empoyment based upon a freshly m

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          That's quite possible. Maybe his dad is in aerospace and pushed really hard for him to get a degree in it. Maybe he just changed his mind. Maybe he was gunning for NASA then decided that all the cool projects were dead and wanted to see how he could leverage engineering into something that didn't end him up as a suicidal pencil-pusher by middle age.

          The number of people who have gone to the trouble of earning a degree then deciding that their chosen degree isn't really what they wanted to do with their li

      • by timeOday (582209)
        There's nothing wrong with Lego paying somebody only this amount for this job.

        There's nothing wrong with the winner for taking the job if he couldn't find anything better, or if it's his dream so he doesn't care about money.

        What does worry me is that the situation exists at all - somebody graduates with an engineering degree and failed to find a job in his field, despite trying to do so. On the one hand, we are hearing every day how China will crush us because they are graduating technically skilled pe

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          No, what's even more worrying is that our stupid government and industries are still telling kids they need to go into engineering and science, when this is what awaits them: no jobs in their field, crushing student loans expenses (which cannot be avoided by bankruptcy), and having to settle for low-paying jobs that don't help them with their career that they've trained for.

          It wouldn't be so bad if the President, in his State of the Union address, instead of saying more people need to learn science and engi

        • by mcvos (645701)

          This is a problem in more western countries. Everybody keeps complaining we need more science, tech, innovation and education, companies complain about the level of education of recent grads, yet nobody actually wants to invest in it. Companies don't want to pay decent salaries, politics don't want to invest in education and innovation, and students who chose science or technology end up either unemployed, or making less money than if they'd chosen something management-oriented.

          If you care about science and

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          There's nothing magical about getting an engineering (or any other) degree, it doesn't guarantee you a job, never mind a well-paying one.

          And if you simply let the market decide, everyone will go into finance and in a few more years time no-one in the (current) Industrialized Western world will actually be making anything at all.

    • For that price I hope he at least gets a crown and a scepter to go along with the wicked-ass title

      • For that price I hope he at least gets a crown and a scepter to go along with the wicked-ass title

        Well, yes, if he builds them out of Lego. (:-)

      • by Vomster (1816032)
        I'm sure he'll be able to make those items if he so chooses.
    • by SimonTS (1984074)
      As a fully qualified and educated Network Consultant in the UK who is now unemployed due to the economy, that sounds like a very good salary. Hell, I'd be willing to do that job an stay on the benefits I'm on - sounds like fun.
      • That's US Dollars, not Great Brittan Pounds. Starting salaries for engineers in the US are in the $50k-$70k range, and my understanding is that things are similar in the UK.

        In most cities, one could make $37k without any education or degree simply by waiting tables full-time.

        • I think that's a bit "optimistic" for waitress. It'd best be an upscale joint, and you'd best be highly competent and very hot.
          • Say the average table has four people, the average meal lasts an hour, the average bill is $15/person, and the average tip is 15%, and you serve 4 tables, on average, at a time. That's $36/hour in tips. If you work eight hour days five days a week you're earning $75k right there! If anything, $37k is an underestimate for a waitress position.

        • by spxero (782496)

          In most cities, one could make $37k without any education or degree simply by waiting tables full-time.

          It depends on your city and state. In Texas minimum wage is ~$7.25, but minimum wage for wait staff is $2.13. Tips are considered part of your compensation, so if you report honestly to the restaurant and government, you get hosed. To pull $37.5k working 40 hours/week as a waiter in Texas would require $33k in tips. The same job in California is minimum wage regardless, and would require only $20k in tips. Source: http://www.paywizard.org/main/Minimumwageandovertime/MinimumWageTIPRecevers [paywizard.org]

    • You think it's pathetic now, wait till you see his resume when he decides to move on.

      "So... your last position, what exactly did you do at... Lego Land, was it?"

      "I, uh, Built things. Out of little bricks. Every day."

      "so, how do you think that qualifies you for a job in the aerospace industry?"

      "Ummm.. well, some of the things were shaped like rockets? and airplanes?"

      "I see... fortunately you're willing to work for a pathetic salary. Welcome to the space program!"

      • by lennier (44736)

        "I, uh, Built things. Out of little bricks. Every day."

        "Ah, so a Shuttle thermal tile engineer, then? Welcome to the team."

    • Salary means nothing without knowing what cost of living is wherever he will be living. Where I live (northeastern Wisconsin), I make $37,000, but that is a pretty good salary given the low cost of living. TFS says "Texas", which doesn't narrow it down much. I'd assume the job is in a major city (which means higher cost of living), but he may choose to live where cost of living is low and commute in. We don't know.
      • by csatlosi (1891262)

        the may choose to live where cost of living is low and commute in. We don't know.

        I think a Lego Czar should live in the middle of Legoland in a castle made of Lego bricks....

        • I like your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
          • by coolmadsi (823103)

            I like your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

            I subscribe to the newsletter, it doesn't come out very often. Something about "writer's block" apparently.

        • by Obfuscant (592200)
          I think a Lego Czar should live in the middle of Legoland in a castle made of Lego bricks....

          (That line is a quote but the italic tag no longer seems to italic it...)

          And he should bathe in a Lego bathtub, and sleep in a Lego bed, and eat from utensils made entirely of Lego bricks, so that he can legitimately tell the cook for his breakfast in the morning "Eggo my Lego...".

          And he should marry a young woman made entirely of plastic bricks so he can have the "Lord of the Rings" fantasy life of living with

      • by jockeys (753885)

        I'd assume the job is in a major city (which means higher cost of living), but he may choose to live where cost of living is low and commute in.

        Sort of. Grapevine is a suburb of Dallas and Ft. Worth, right next to DFW Int'l Airport, and the standard of living is a bit higher than many of the surrounding suburbs. According to Wikipedia, median income is around 76k. I've lived in the area and a decent apartment is going to set you back the better part of 1k/month, if not more.

        however, there are other places in DFW within commuting range that have a much, MUCH lower standard of living.

        • by mcvos (645701)

          According to Wikipedia, median income is around 76k.

          Median, not average? That's pretty high, then. Median income is often about half of the average income (because the top 1% make so much). A median of 76k is staggering.

      • by Aldanga (1757414)
        The article says Grapevine, Texas is where the new Legoland Discovery Center will be. Grapevine is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. CNN [cnn.com] has some details on the city's cost of living, median income, etc.
      • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Interesting)

        by vlm (69642) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @05:12PM (#35013442)

        Salary means nothing without knowing what cost of living is wherever he will be living. Where I live (northeastern Wisconsin), I make $37,000, but that is a pretty good salary given the low cost of living.

        Hi neighbor. I went to a Cisco router BGP class about a decade ago in Chicago. I live in suburban WI, lab partner lives in downtown Chicago. Compared salaries and he makes twice as much as I made. Later on, compared lifestyles and he was a small step above a homeless person and I lived like a king:

        WI: $60K yr, wife and two kids in a medium size house on an acre of land in a very good area (low crime/great schools/great location), two brand new cars, no significant loans except the (small pre housing bubble) mortgage.

        IL: $120K yr, tiny one bedroom apartment with wife and kid "want to get a two bedroom but can't afford it", he drove me around town in his princely 15 year old rusty pickup truck, commented about still having hefty student loans and maybe after they're paid off he could afford the rent on a two bdrm apt.

        Now of course job opportunities being what they are, ten years later he's probably making $240K, and I'm still making, you guessed it, $60K, but...

        • by evilviper (135110)

          To be fair,there could well be two people in the same city, with identical salaries and home situations, with a similarly disparate result.

          Some people are good with money while others aren't. If you spend much of your money on transient or disposable items, you simply end up with nothing to show for it. Pretty soon all those diners, movies, new tvs, etc., add up.

      • by Phibz (254992)

        The article says Grapevine which is part of the Dallas metroplex. $37,500 isn't terrible for a single 24 year old out of college, but it's hardly good.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      So I suggest you not take it.
      For this guy it may be a dream come true. He maybe unemployed. Maybe he is married and his wife has a year or too left in college and he wants to stay in the area. Maybe he really wants to work for Lego.
      I had a friend that had a degree in communications and worked at Disney World for a low salary. He is now a news director at NBC in New York. Sometimes you start at the bottom of what you love and keep at it.

      • by SimonTS (1984074)
        If you'd read the actual article, then you'd have seen that he has been unemployed for a year since graduating and that he "narrowed his search to companies that he thought would satisfy his passion for creating and building things and his interest in working with people". Sounds to me like he's landed on his feet with the perfect job.
        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          I did but I wanted to show other reasons. I agree for him it may actually be a dream come true.

    • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by squareroottwo (1915218) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:44PM (#35013098)
      It wasn't too long ago that I was hired for my first real job out of college for $37,500/yr with benefits. The video game studio position was lower salaried than other jobs I could have had. (I even turned down one.) I didn't make the wrong choice, despite holding multiple college level degrees. I had a blast, I learned skills I didn't expect, and I'm better for it. The only things pathetic in this story are reactions like yours revealing how money is the only thing to chase in so many peoples' eyes.
      • by antdude (79039)

        Ditto. I started a first salary job with fringe benefits with 30K per year during dotcom days. That was with a CS major. :)

      • by syousef (465911)

        It wasn't too long ago that I was hired for my first real job out of college for $37,500/yr with benefits. The video game studio position was lower salaried than other jobs I could have had. (I even turned down one.) I didn't make the wrong choice, despite holding multiple college level degrees. I had a blast, I learned skills I didn't expect, and I'm better for it. The only things pathetic in this story are reactions like yours revealing how money is the only thing to chase in so many peoples' eyes.

        You'll change your tune if you get sick, or if you have a family and your wife or children are sick. You'll find no one cares how much fun you're having at work.

    • $37,500 starting salary...
      (Stupid new Slashdot layout breaks italics.)

      With an engineering degree and experience. Pathetic.

      My first job straight out of school paid considerably less than that, and unemployment was nowhere near as high as today's level.

    • $37,500 starting salary...
      (Stupid new Slashdot layout breaks italics.)

      With an engineering degree and experience. Pathetic.

      I was making considerably less than that at my last job... So it doesn't sound that bad to me.

      Especially considering that he gets to play with LEGO all day long.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      What do you suggest would be a reasonable starting salary for playing with lego?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, YOU'RE pathetic. Happiness>expectations of society.

      If he can rent out a apartment, eat full meals every day, buy gas for his car, pay his bills AND go to work happy every morning and come home without several layers of stress on top of his clothes... then he's someone to be looked up to.

      But of course, by your logic, money>happiness. Right? ....so sad.

    • by cashman73 (855518)
      It may not sound like much, but think about it. This guy probably won't be doing this when he's 50 (heck, he probably won't do it much longer than 3-4 years). So he gets to have fun playing with Legos AND get paid a livable salary (based on Texas standards). Then, when he's looking for a real job, he gets to put "Lego Czar" on his resume! He'll quite easily stand out among all the 100s of other resumes submitted through the websites,. . . =)
    • You forget the Czar of all Legoland gets his own castle, and a legion of lego servants.. and lego harem.
    • My first job out of University with an Engineering degree and with experience from co-op and working through school paid $38,500, and that was the only benefit. At the time, houses started at about 8.5x that. I graduated in 2004 and prospects were pretty good.

      I took that job for several reasons. One, it looked really interesting. Two, the commute was very short. Three, the atmosphere was really casual and friendly. Four, I'd have a serious impact on the company. Five, I could have held out for anothe

    • $37,500 starting salary

      Monarchy is so under-appreciated these days!

    • by moxley (895517)

      There's more to a job than salary.

      I am Director of Information Technology for a small biotech start up; I have had the job for 7 years. I get paid approximately half what most people in this position make and have only had a raise once - but I live above the office and have no commute - they buy me lunch every day, and I can come and go as I please, with no asshole boss watching my back and can pick my days off.

      So - most people in this position with my experience are making $130k - $180k annually.

      Could I g

    • Given what Lego bricks cost --- if his working w/ them during the day reduces what would otherwise be a significant buying habit, he could easily make up that difference.

      Moreover, your evaluation of the job merely on the basis of a single number says far more about your character (or lack thereof) than anything else. There's also the question of what the other benefits and perquisites are --- and of course, being able to work at a job which one loves and which helps to bring children educational toys which

  • I have to imagine that a large part of his success in the event was due to his appeal to the spectating children, which is a huge part of what Legos is. FTFA:

    He gave credit to the children spectators at the event, who offered suggestions on what pieces to add to make the designs more interesting.

    Also, to those who scoff at the salary: If he's doing something he enjoys, and can afford to live on that, then so what?

    • by Venzor (1929328)
      Heh, apparently that's what I get for reading only the first half of the article. Quoted later on:

      Iain Scouller, general manager of the Grapevine Legoland Discovery Center, said Walsh's skill with the Lego blocks impressed him and the other judges, but it was his positive interaction with the children who came to see the competition that gave him the winning edge. "The master builder has to be able to interact with the children in a friendly and approachable manner," Scouller said.

      • Yep. I think Cal Walsh just started a career in STEM outreach. Probably not a bad time for it, either.
  • by chemicaldave (1776600) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:31PM (#35012920)
    That doesn't look like a fort at all!
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:37PM (#35012988) Journal

    And I've just been named Emperor of the Wazoo! Bring on the weird, pointless titles! King of Underarm Deodorants... Duke of Aged Cheeses... Chief Technical Adviser to Nails and Screws!

    • Chief Technical Adviser to Nails and Screws!

      Well, to be fair, that one would actually be a pretty honorable position to hold, as well as being one with much responsibility. Think about it, nails and screws, quite literally, hold up our entire civilization. We wouldn't be anywhere if it weren't for those two simple machines. Being a chief adviser regarding all things involving nails and screws would, indeed, be one hell of a job.

  • What? There is actually such a thing? Never heard of it!
  • Another Czar?

    Huh... I must have missed this announcement in the State of the Union address...

  • Yeah, I guess that's a pretty weird name for an aerospace engineer. It sounds more like a Star Wars bounty hunter name.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @04:55PM (#35013186)

    Your stealth fighter airplanes are no match for ours produced out of Lego by our aerospace engineering Lego Czar!

  • Lego Czar? (Score:4, Funny)

    by lennier (44736) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @05:11PM (#35013428) Homepage

    And then came the Lego food riots, the Lego Revolution, the Lego Five Year Plans, the Great Lego Patriotic War... From Lego With Love... the fall of the Lego Wall... the rise of the Legoligarchs...

    • by Ancantus (1926920)

      And then came the Lego food riots, the Lego Revolution, the Lego Five Year Plans, the Great Lego Patriotic War... From Lego With Love... the fall of the Lego Wall... the rise of the Legoligarchs...

      You mean the rise of the Legemon.

  • ... named Christopher started off by building a shoe that spelled his name... He then runned out of Lego pieces...
  • Note to everybody: Please stop using the term "czar". This isn't Romanov-era Russia. I hate how people are using this word to be synonymous with "management".

    • by aclarke (307017)
      While I wholeheartedly agree with you, I can only imagine that "Lego Czar" is supposed to be making fun of that.
  • Where no Lego has gone before.
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Where no Lego has gone before.

      Walsh applied his engineering skills to build a spaceship.

      Are we falling behind in Lego too.

  • ...As many other have pointed out, the lego sculpture is quite lame.

    But what I find hilarious are the children's faces staring at his creation: they look confused. I mean what the hell did he build? I am just pissed I cannot buy bulk lego bags of identical bricks for a reasonable price: hell I would still play with them as an adult!

  • How convenient; they can build the Potemkin Village [wikipedia.org] for him to ride past out of Legos!
  • by Crouty (912387) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @10:09PM (#35016070)
    Many people may think that Lego has nothing to do with IT or even technology in general. I think what happens when a child plays with Lego is the very core of what hacking means - being creative and constructive. Uh, and of course most of the things you can build with Lego can be portet to Minecraft ;-).
  • by jshackney (99735) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @10:16PM (#35016112) Homepage

    I say, "Congratulations!" to this man. He'll be making a little more money than your average Part 135 Lear Jet captain east of the Mississippi. Now is a particularly bad time to be looking for work and it'd be nice to do something fun and get paid for it.

  • Am I the only one who read "Lego lover" as "legover"?

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