On Nov. 16 civil engineering senior Ryan Francois teamed with other Iowa State engineering students to construct a 29-foot LEGO man out of cardboard.
The giant LEGO man was built and slept in at Reggie’s Sleepout, an annual event at the Drake University stadium where hundreds camped to raise awareness and funding for homeless youth in central Iowa. Francois’ team, “The Brickheads,” raised over $6,500 for the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers with its project. Made entirely out of cardboard, Francois and his team constructed the LEGO man in a garage in Granger, Iowa, and transported it to Drake stadium using a convoy of several semi-truck flatbeds and trailers.
Francois, who oversaw the construction of the 200 individual pieces and logistics of the structure said, “This is going to be the hardest part for us. There is a lot that could go wrong in that distance.” Luckily, Francois is no stranger to this environment. In fact, he first started volunteering with Reggie’s Sleepout in 2006 when he was still in high school. In 2009, as seniors at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, Francois and his group of friends constructed a replica of the state capitol building, also made entirely out of cardboard. That year, the team raised $14,000 for homeless youth in Iowa. Even though their efforts were strictly volunteer, Francois said that this year, “We wanted to push what we had done in the past, and really see what we could do.”
Watch the video below of how the engineering student team built a giant LEGO man with cardboard.
Students searched for their own cardboard primarily from old appliance boxes and cardboard tubes that carpet typically ships in. The entire structure was held together by hundreds of dollars’ worth of duct tape and zip ties, all of which were donated by local businesses. Even though a cardboard structure may not seem that stable, there was actually enough room for about 20 people to sleep within a four-level area. The team, along with others, spent the night in the final structure when assembled. “We all take it for granted having a place to sleep in the colder part of the year, but sometimes we forget that many people are outside with nowhere to go,” Francois said.
Francois said he has learned so much from this experience, including logistics, management, design and working in an accelerated environment He credits some of the skills necessary to work on the project to his Iowa State engineering courses. As team captain, he applied his technical and communication skills to orchestrate a great cause.
CCEE Communications Intern Alex Hagar contributed to this story.