Bob Mehaffey knows how things work, and how to fix them when they don’t.
He puts those skills to work as a volunteer at the Omaha Children’s Museum.
Mehaffey, 62, retired in 2004 after 30 years as an electrical engineer for the Omaha Public Power District. For the last five years, he’s been sharing his talents with the museum.
“I needed some kind of outlet,’’ he said.
Mehaffey said the Children’s Museum is important for Omaha because the hands-on exhibits help kids learn about science and other topics.
Plenty of the museum’s exhibits have switches, gears and other mechanical parts. One of those is the Super Gravitron, a massive ball machine.
Mehaffey has replaced, repaired and cleaned motors in the exhibit.
He helps set up the computer program that runs the museum’s Christmas light show.
He has repaired light fixtures, door hinges and other parts that break.
Mehaffey gets most of his work done on Mondays, when the museum is closed. But he’ll come in other days if needed.
He learned to fix things while growing up on a farm outside North Bend, Neb. He learned from his dad, who had a full machine shop and could build and fix just about anything, whether it was an irrigation pump or a tractor motor.
His dad taught Mehaffey the importance of being self-reliant. Farmers can’t wait for a mechanic to come out and fix a tractor or an irrigation machine. They need to learn to do it themselves, he said.
By the time he graduated from high school, Mehaffey knew he wanted to be an engineer. He worked on 4-H projects in high school that involved electrical work, and that convinced him.
He studied electrical engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and played tuba in the marching band. He played at three Orange Bowls and one Cotton Bowl, and is still a Husker fan.
He is also still fascinated by electricity, and is building his own stereo speakers at home.
“I like to make things work,” he said.
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