Even at a young age, Austin Granger of St. Paul, Minn., 21, enjoyed the art of building things.
“His dad started showing him how to build with LEGOs when he was 4 or 5 years old,” his mother, Renee Bergeron, said. “By the time he was 7, he was doing the adult versions.”
“He is amazing at this stuff. He’s made structures outside, inside, even working structures,” she added.
Granger’s talent is on full display in the YouTube video he posted Sept. 13 of his impressive K’nex structure in his bedroom that is generating a lot of buzz online. This one, proudly dubbed “Clockwork,” is the biggest machine he has built to date in terms of the amount of time it took him to build it with the construction toys, and the number of electronic and motor components it contains.
His description for the K’nex creation reads, “This is Clockwork, my fifth major K’nex ball machine, and my largest and most complex K’nex structure to date. It took 8 months to build, has over 40,000 pieces, over 450 feet of track, 21 different paths, 8 motors, 5 lifts, and a one-of-a-kind computer-controlled crane, as well as two computer-controlled illuminated K’nex balls.”
When asked whether he can even get to his bed with such a large structure built in his room, he said, “Yes I can. When I build these large machines in my room, I always take special care to make them as unobtrusive as I can so I can still use all the critical parts of my room like the bed, shelves and doors. Everything is designed to go around over and under instead of just occupying space and blocking everything. I can sleep perfectly comfortably.”
Granger started building with K’nex around age 7 because it allowed him to build bigger structures than LEGOs.
“I started with K’nex because I could build larger things, more kinetic things. The people who build with LEGOs tend to like more realistic or static structures that don’t move,” Granger said.
Bergeron said, “When he’s doing it, he just gets so engrossed, he forgets to eat, forgets to sleep.”
Granger said his favorite part about building these “is simply the intellectual challenge of solving a problem. I really like giving myself a problem and trying to figure out how to solve my own problem. That, in my opinion, is pretty much of the most satisfying things a person can do.”
Now a computer science major at the University of Minnesota, Granger is quite the multi-faceted young man.
“He composed the music that’s on the video. He’s really interested in music and photography and all forms of art,” his mother said. “And this [K'nex] is an art form for him.
“He built a 32 -or 38-foot roller coaster that he attached to the house. That was pretty cool. He also did a Ferris wheel outside on our deck. At night, he would put a big spotlight on it and it would go around all night and look like a giant permanent firework.”
Granger said it can take up two months to completely disassemble his elaborate K’nex structures.
To see videos of all Granger’s K’nex machines, click here.