Dec 21 - A 21-year-old student has transformed tens of thousands of K'Nex pieces, a toy construction system, into a full-sized, working pinball machine. Andrew Locke says he was motivated by a love to build, the same obsession that has inspired him to pursue a career in engineering. Ben Gruber reports.
STORY: Andrew Locke has been obsessed with building for most of his life. This is his latest project - a full scale pinball machine made up entirely of K'Nex pieces, a child's construction toy. He has been receiving these construction kits for Christmas since he was very young. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDREW LOCKE, ENGINEERING STUDENT AT UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER, SAYING: "Yeah I think I was about five. My brother and I received a set for Christmas, and he never used it, and I did. And I built stuff for it all the time, and the next year, I got a bigger set, and I used them every year. And I'd build bigger things, and anything that came into my mind, I'd try to build. So yeah, every birthday and Christmas, basically, it was more K'Nex, because my parents knew I'd use them. So they just kind of amassed over the years." For this Christmas, Lock wanted to put his K'Nex collection to good use. He spent four months building the pinball machine, which he estimates is comprised of 20,000 K'Nex parts, including the forty pieces that were from the original set he received sixteen years ago. Lock, now a 21-year-old engineering student, says one of the most important lessons he has learned while building bigger and more sophisticated objects over the years..... is the value of patience. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANDREW LOCKE, SAYING: "Patience is definitely a big one, there are spots that just don't work, and you think it's going to work and you build it, and it doesn't, and you start throwing things, until it works. And so, I don't know that I've necessarily gained knowledge in engineering school that I applied here, it's more, I just have the patience." Patience...and now the time to enjoy the fruits of his labour over Christmas.