Alex Le Roux, B.S. '15
In some ways, Alex Le Roux has been running most of his life. He competed in track and cross country in high school, eventually earning a track and field scholarship to Baylor. However, he began running in a different capacity soon after graduating with a mechanical engineering degree.
Le Roux is co-founder and chief technical officer of ICON, an Austin-based construction technologies company revolutionizing human shelter and homebuilding through 3D printing, robotics, software and advanced materials. In 2021, Le Roux was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Manufacturing and Industry list and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Innovators Under 35 list.
The seeds of Le Roux’s engineering entrepreneurship endeavors were born at Baylor, where he first witnessed a 3D printer in a professor’s lab. An entrepreneurship class led him to participate in the Baylor New Venture Competition.
“I was the lone engineer in the business school,” he says. “I loved the adrenaline rush and uncertainty of entrepreneurship. With the combination of learning, I was pretty good at engineering — it seemed like a natural fit.”
Le Roux founded Vesta Printer shortly after graduating from Baylor and spent a year and a half tinkering and maturing 3D printing technology. In 2017, he partnered with Texas A&M University graduates Jason Ballard and Evan Loomis to found ICON. The company launched at SXSW in March 2018 with America’s first permitted 3D-printed home.
“Jason and Evan brought their business acumen. I brought the technology vision,” he says. “The rest is history.”
Le Roux is the architect of the company’s large-scale construction, Vulcan printing technology, a nearly 12-foot-tall 3D printer that can construct a 500-square-foot concrete house in about 24 hours at approximately 70 percent of the cost of traditional construction. ICON, which has raised more than $450 million in funding, has delivered communities of 3D-printed homes in the United States and internationally.
ICON innovations such as the Vulcan have been lauded by Time and Popular Science. In 2020, the company landed a U.S. Air Force research contract that included NASA funding to research the process of building off-Earth structures. Le Roux’s main mission is addressing the lack of affordable housing, which was the inspiration behind his founding of Vesta Printers and ICON.
“To make a dent in the housing crisis, we need to print thousands of homes, and then, one day, millions of homes,” Le Roux says. “This project is a big step in that direction. We want 3D printers in every part of the U.S. and eventually the world.”
Le Roux remembers seeing fellow Baylor students build homes while on mission trips in Latin America. They were using their hands and arms — physical labor. He believed there was a better, more efficient way.
“It seemed like we could use our intellect and our ingenuity to fast-track a lot of that work,” Le Roux says. “I hope that in some way what we’re doing here is going to allow us to do that.”
ICON printed six homes and a welcome center in Austin’s Community First! Village in March 2020 as part of the company’s partnership with Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a nonprofit that serves the area’s homeless community. Each one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 400-square-foot structure includes a living room, a full kitchen and a large porch.
More, similar projects are in the works, and ICON is beginning to work with government agencies to address rebuilding efforts following natural disasters such as hurricanes. Le Roux says his missional vision and sense of integrity are rooted in his Baylor degree.
“I was a part of many ethics classes, and we talked about what it means to do something correctly and ethically,” Le Roux says. “I also learned what it means to work together as a team and what high performance looks like. All of that stuck with me.”
2022 Alumni Award Recipients