The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is scouting out and recruiting Minecraft savants. But why? What future do they have for these building-block architects?
Washington, District of Columbia – When Brandon Kowalski started playing Minecraft, the once-independent block-builder game by Mojang Studios, he found something he truly loved – an environment where he could create. Using blocks mined and gathered from the game world, he constructed buildings, dams, whole environments, but the game was merely a hobby.
Like many hobbyists, Brandon excelled at his passion, replicating the Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon, and the Empire State Building in unbelievable detail, but never imagined it would lead to something greater.
At least until the men in black suits knocked on his door.
“Freaked me out, you know?” Kowalski said. “Like, two guys in suits with aviator glasses and earpieces show up and what’s the first thing you think?”
Brandon thought it might be the FBI. CIA. IRS. NSA – any number of government agencies with three-letter acronyms for names. “I about crapped my pants, man. Dropped a deuce right there at the front door. Then they showed me their IDs.”
Turns out the truth was even more bizarre than Kowalski’s fears. The two men in black were recruiters from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“I found Brandon Kowalski through my daughter,” said recruiter Marco DeWalt. “She got into the Minecraft thing and showed me a blog with pictures of the kid’s work. At first I was only mildly interested, but after she showed me how he made a functional model of Hoover Dam – including the internal workings! – I was hooked.”
DeWalt kept an eye on Kowalski’s blog for over a year before approaching his superior, Alice Dunn, about recruiting the young Minecraft savant. While Dunn proved reluctant at first, she was eventually won over by DeWalt’s persistence and the young man’s apparent skill.
“We need creative minds like Kowalski’s in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” Dunn said. “Especially going forward, as the Corps becomes more invested in the future of America. Brandon’s ideas for space-age construction are far more advanced than many classically-trained architects.”
Space-age construction? It seems the USACE is interested in Kowalski’s block-built moon bases and starships as much as his dams and skyscrapers. While his designs take their queues from popular science fiction movies and television shows, his attention to structural detail is unmatched.
“Dude,” Brandon said. “Dude. I mean, I just got my ideas from Firefly and Star Wars. But man, if they want to build a Death Star, I’m their man.”
Last year, a concerned group of citizens petitioned the government to secure funding and materials in order to do that very thing: build a Death Star. Publicly, the current administration denies any plans of constructing a battle station, even offering a witty, timely response to the petition.
But the hiring of Kowalski and the scouting of other Minecraft savants who actively design virtual sci-fi worlds and vehicles may suggest the USACE is working with the Department of Defense and NASA to take the next step forward in the space race.
Despite the ethical questions surrounding his employment, Brandon Kowalski is just glad to have a job doing what he loves.
“I get to play Minecraft all day, every day, man,” he said with a boyish grin. “There can’t be anything morally wrong with that, right?”