On a typical weekday, Andrew Johnson wakes up, drives to work, and sits down at his desk. Then he starts playing with Legos. Is he goofing off? No, he’s just doing his job!
Johnson, 23, was recently hired as a Lego Master Model Builder. He is the youngest person ever to hold the position. Lego has only 12 Lego master builders worldwide. Johnson is one of just four in America.
What does a model master do? Johnson designs huge and complicated structures out of the tiny building blocks at the Legoland Discovery Center, Chicago, in Illinois. He also meets with families and toy enthusiasts who visit the center.
To get the job, Johnson submitted a video showing a sample of his work: a catapult that fires boulders at a dragon, all made entirely out of Lego bricks.
Then Johnson had to compete against other amateur architects in front of a live audience of kids, parents, and Lego professionals. He was one of eight finalists on- stage.
Competitors had to use speed and creativity to impress judges while building spectacular Lego sculptures on the fly. Johnson won by making a life-size violin and harmonica, a sculpture of Dr. Seuss’s character the Lorax, and a replica of a famous statue in Chicago, where the contest was held.
Johnson is finishing his last year of college at DePaul University. But his real education began with his toy box. Johnson says he has been playing with Legos all his life. Many of his skills, he says, came from working at a camp where Lego blocks were used to teach students about architecture and engineering (use of scientific principles to design things or to create systems that solve existing problems).
"It's one of the only toys I can think of that you don't grow out of," Johnson tells reporters. "I'm going to stay here as long as I'm having fun—which I can see being a long time."