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Engineering a personal success

CoE student Jess Chism applies some welding gel to a bumble ball. Photo by Vicki Hodder

MU’s College of Engineering houses mechanical engineers who work on complex topics ranging from ultrafast lasers to energy conversion techniques.

Yet CoE student Jess Chism is earning kudos throughout the college for resolving the much more modest engineering dilemma presented by a batch of broken bumble balls. Chism, a mechanical engineering senior due to graduate in May, drew on his ingenuity and welding gel to repair the motor-driven toys.

“Repairing these was a challenge,” Chism said. “It wasn’t a standard easy fix; it was something a little out of the ordinary.”

Chism’s victory was as significant as it was personal for College of Education grant writer Susanne Carter, who hired him a few weeks ago after advertising for a “mechanical whiz” on the university’s career planning and placement site. The lighted, jittery bumble balls are her 24–year–old disabled son’s favorite toys, Carter said.

Having heard the lit bumble balls are being discontinued, Carter had bought her batch from an eBay seller early in the year. But the balls she received wouldn’t move, and replacing the batteries didn’t help, Carter said.

“I felt there had to be a solution, but I knew it would require expertise I didn’t have,” she said.
Chism willingly supplied that expertise, diagnosing a loose shaft and devising a repair within days. Once identified, the problem’s solution was clear, Chism said.

The simple fix—and its prompt application—means a lot to Carter.

“I was amazed that someone responded to my ad within 48 hours,” she said, “and very happy that Jess was able to utilize his engineering expertise to solve the problem.”