BILLINGS – Adolescence is a time for figuring out what you want to do when you grow up. It’s a time for big dreams and growth, or for some, a time for continually being sent to the principal’s office.
But for one Billings youth, his dreams have sparked a pretty cool hobby.
Brendan McGovern has one of the largest, and coolest, Lego collections you will ever see. But Lego is not Brendan’s only passion:, the 14-year-old eighth grader dreams of being an aerospace engineer.
According to his parents, it was apparent from a young age that Brendan loved to design and create.
“He has always been a very curious kid. And so how things worked has always interested him a lot and so I think the Lego is a natural extension of that. It has been very cool to watch the progression from being a little kid with just blocks and things like that to what he is doing now and further on with what he is planning on doing with engineering,” said father Brian McGovern.
Brian notes that while things can change, and that ultimately his son’s path might differ from his current dreams, he loves that his son has direction and is willing to dream big.
Brendan’s first Lego set came so early that his parents had to help him put it together, and he has been building ever since.
The collection spilled out of his room and into the downstairs storeroom, onto the basement floor and now finds a home on a custom built table courtesy of a family friend. And space there is scarce.
The piece in the design phase right now is a working roller coaster to add to the midway, and while lego is often a hobby for young people, it comes with adult price tags. The 4,000 piece coaster set comes in at just under $400.
The roller coaster will take up to three feet of space, and Brendan is currently working on a mental reorganization of his setup to fit everything on the table.
Brendan estimates the value of his collection at around $3,000 and while some of the pieces have come on birthdays and Christmas, most of the collection has been built from Brendan’s own hard work.
“Mostly from summer jobs and just odd jobs that I get. I have my neighbors around the neighborhood, I watch their dogs while they are gone for the weekend, get their mail water their flowers, and then I had a friend that was moving this summer and so I helped her all of this summer,” said Brendan.
Brendan also brings those hard-working habits to others areas of his life. He is a great student who tutors younger children in math, he volunteers and takes piano lessons in his spare time and has attended national camps for youth who excel in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
When asked why he enjoys tutoring, he gives a response mature beyond his years, “just to help (a fellow student) succeed,” said Brendan.
His Lego collection mirrors his passions and if you ask him what pieces are his favorite he will tell you they are the planes.
In fact, planes dominate his future outlook. He loves to travel and dreams to one day sit on an airplane that he helped design, en route to a far off destination.
“I would like to work for Boeing and work there, in Seattle, because they have a huge plant there. I think it would just be cool to know that if I am flying on a plane, a transatlantic flight, to know that I designed that plane and that it is staying up in the air for ten hours,” said Brendan.
He can give you a list of the places he wants to travel, as well as why he wishes to travel there, and he can quote the models of planes that are produced at the Boeing factory in Seattle.
A fun fact: the Boeing plant in Seattle is the largest building by volume in the entire world at 472 million cubic feet. Some might need to look up that information, but Brendan could tell you off the top of his head.
While the future is never set in stone, for Brendan, it certainly seems like the sky is the limit.
Reporting by Connor Pregizer for MTN News