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Ellen Pennings: “Programming with Lego robots is a big part of what I do with kids.”

Who are the people who study and work at TU Delft? We meet them in Humans of TU Delft where they talk about their work or other activities. Ellen Pennings has always loved Lego. As owner of De Bonte Bouwplaats in Delft, she now shares her passion through teaching and inspiring kids, young and old.

“When I was young I used to play a lot with Lego, and then around the age of 14 or 15 it was like you couldn’t play with them anymore so you had to find something else to do. I started drawing houses and plans for houses and I made stacks of them with floorplans and everything. So I thought, let’s become an architect and that’s how I ended up in Delft. But I only studied for about nine months. I’m from a very small village and I was naïve and decided I needed to grow up a bit before doing anything else.

I started working for a year and then chose to study econometrics. My studies then had a big component of IT and that’s what I liked. I ended up working in IT for about 15 years. I did all kinds of jobs before, after and in between.

‘At the moment I’ve got over 2,200 Lego sets catalogued’

Then when I had a daughter I wanted to work less. When she was about ten years old I started thinking, ‘What’s the most fun thing I can think of for work?’ Back then, I was playing Lego with her all the time. I decided to try to make a business out of it, but I wanted a serious business not just a hobby. I was a single mom and had to make money. I turned my living room into a workshop and bought lots of Lego and six years later here I am.

At the moment I’ve got over 2,200 Lego sets catalogued, with about 575,000 pieces. I do workshops and parties, but programming with Lego robots is a big part of what I do with kids. I also host Lego parties and team-building events for grownups and I would love to do more.

This is my passion. I’ve always got new favorite Lego sets. But I still like houses and I still use everything I learned in architecture. I still remember lessons I had about how space moves through a building, colour and contrast, and I use that with designing my work space and with Lego that I build.”

Want to be featured in Humans of TU Delft? Or do you know someone with a good story to tell? Send us an e-mail at humansoftudelft@gmail.com!

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