A lifelong hobby for Laugelli is now a teaching tool. “The Lego Course” has been offered three times under his leadership at UVA, including earlier this month in January term. It delivers both a seminar and studio experience, allowing students to learn about the Lego Group’s history, culture and values in the morning and then allowing them to play in the afternoon.
A kid’s toy with lessons to last a career.
“There are people who are skeptical about the course,” Laugelli said. “They ask, ‘Why Lego?’ I tell them, ‘Lego is a company that engages in engineering design that touches every single one of our majors.’”
Prospective engineers of all kinds – mechanical, biomedical, chemical, aerospace, computer science, etc. – took Laugelli’s course this year. While being a Lego fan wasn’t a prerequisite, it was a trait many of the students had in common.
“The opportunity to take a course playing with Legos for college credit was very much attractive,” said Paul Karhnak, a first-year student from Hampton whose grandparents have gifted him a new Lego set every year since he was 5. “But I also looked at it and I said, ‘This will be a great way to not only learn engineering ethics and design considerations and values, but to have fun while doing it.’”