February’s Nerd Nite featured three totally rad local guys who delighted and maybe horrified you with their talks on LEGO, robots, and ultracycling!

Thinking Outside The Brick – LEGO, Art, and Creativity

Many an adult and parent bemoan how LEGO has changed since they were kids — that LEGO products aren’t just a big bucket of rectangular bricks and wheels anymore. With so many LEGO pieces heavily molded and specialized, is LEGO limiting creativity and dumbing down their products? Or is it just our imaginations that are limited? Andy took you on a tour of LEGO nerd-dom and showed you amazing creations that have been made by fans and artists thinking ‘outside of the brick’, proving that the only limit to what we can make (in LEGO or otherwise) is our own imagination.

Andy Grubb has been a professional LEGO artist, Master Model Builder, and attraction designer for LEGOLAND Developments (which builds new LEGOLAND parks around the world), since 2007. His work is featured in LEGOLAND parks and attractions around the globe. He’s played with LEGO products his entire life.

Why (Not) to Fear the Impending Robot Revolution

Robots are poised to impact many aspects of our lives, taking over dirty, dull, or dangerous jobs. Advances in technology (decreased cost of computation and data storage, wireless communication, rapid prototyping, etc.) are allowing robots to evolve beyond toys and vacuum cleaners – leaving the manufacturing line and coming into our homes and commercial spaces. What will we all do with our newfound free time? Wait for Skynet to take over and end humanity as we know it? Or curse at our laundry robots that are too slow and keep mismatching socks? What career path should I take to avoid being replaced by a robot? (hint: artisanal cheesemaker) Nick presented a brief history of robots, surveyed the state of the art, and made some predictions for the future.

Nick Morozovsky has a PhD in robotics from UC San Diego and a BS in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He has worked for Fortune 50 companies, toy companies, and startups. Nick’s first robot was made of LEGO, string, and Capsela and was designed to catch Santa. It did not work.

Ultra-cycling: A Lesson in Damage Control

Ultra-cycling is the sport of riding a bicycle non-stop in races that range from 200 miles – 3000 miles. The Race Across America is one of the biggest annual ultra-cycling events, and attracts athletes from around the world, the best of which complete the cross-country journey in less than 8 days. What kind of preparation do racers and their support crew undergo before these races? What kinds of things happen to the body of a racer during these long, physical efforts? What kinds of challenges are encountered during the race? David explored these questions and shared his experiences as a crew-member/photographer/filmmaker of various ultra-cycling teams.

David Su has been documenting the sport of ultra-cycling with his cameras for the last several years. He has vomited only twice while on the job. When he’s not hanging out of a moving car with his cameras trying to get a shot, he spends his time working as an engineer in the field of magnetic fusion energy. Holy shit that’s cool.