‘Face to Face’: A Picture Worth a Thousand Legos

Marc Corfmat Talks Design and Engineering

A young man in a black polo shirt holds a Polaroid camera made out of Legos against his chest. He is standing to the left next to Chancellor Gary S. May who is wearing a dark suit and holding a small box of Polaroid film. Both are smiling at the camera in a studio setting with a bright background that has blue UC Davis logo along a yellow wall.
Marc Corfmat, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, designed a Lego Polaroid Onestep SX-70 camera and is now available in stores. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

When Marc Corfmat was growing up, his sister had a bedroom wall covered in Polaroid photos while he and his brother were both obsessed with Legos. Corfmat merged those interests this year with his UC Davis studies in mechanical engineering to create something available all around the nation.

In the latest episode of Face to Face, Chancellor Gary S. May and Cormfat discuss the graduate student’s latest design: a functioning Polaroid camera built out of Lego bricks. 

Chancellor May in conversation with Marc Corfmat in this 'Face to Face' episode.

In 2020 the Lego Ideas program offered a chance for designers who receive over 10,000 votes to have their idea come to life, and receive 1 percent of sales in return. Marc and his brother spent years submitting dozens of projects until his 2022 submission led to the Lego Polaroid Onestep SX-70, which hit shelves in January.

Purple graphic with text "Face to Face with Chancellor May"

In a conversation driven by curiosity, hear Corfmat talk about the design and engineering challenges he overcame, like how to physically print a photo in a machine made of literal building blocks and how to power the camera without batteries. 

Corfmat also talks to May about working in the Advanced Research for Manufacturing Systems Laboratory with Professor Masakazu Soshi of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and how this research experience is shaping Corfmat’s future goals.

Inside of a recording studio, Chancellor Gary S. May, wearing a dark suit, is standing on the left and extending his hand for a shake with Marc Corfmat, standing to the Chancellor's right, wearing a dark polo shirt against a Face to Face logo backdrop.
Chancellor May greeting Marc Corfmat inside Aggie Studios (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

May’s academic and professional background in electrical and computer engineering is present throughout the conversation — after all, May is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. 

Stick around for some community building across the Star Trek and Star Wars aisle as Corfmat asks May about the impact science fiction and comics had on his career path. 

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José Vadi is a writer for Dateline UC Davis, and can be reached by email.

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