Myles Christensen: Going the extra mile

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Myles Christensen, mechanical engineering professor, loves spending time with his family, especially playing games such as "Order's Up," pictured above. This is a game he invented where players rush to serve a table of hungry customers. (Jeffrey Allen)
Myles Christensen, mechanical engineering professor, loves spending time with his family, especially playing games such as “Order’s Up,” pictured above. This is a game he invented where players rush to serve a table of hungry customers. (Jeffrey Allen)

Children scream, limbs fly and chaos is mounts. A brief silence as everyone holds their breath, then blurred hands shoot out and slam to the ground, trying to get the remaining piece of food before another can snatch it away.

No, this isn’t a disaster zone. It’s a typical evening in the home of Myles Christensen. The chaos? Christensen’s five children playing “Order’s Up,” a board game he created and that has since been a hit.

Christensen loves spending time with his family, especially playing games such as “Order’s Up,” a game he invented where players rush to serve a table of hungry customers.

The husband, father, adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at BYU, consultant and entrepreneur says one of his biggest passions is invention.

“I want to invent and license,” Christensen said. “That’s all I really want to do.”

He didn’t always feel this way. As a child, Christensen said he really wanted to be a pilot. He changed his tune when he noticed that, during the Gulf War, most of those who were kept prisoners of war were pilots. He then decided building airplane parts was the way to go.

It was during an internship where he was reverse-engineering airplane parts that he realized this also wasn’t for him.

“I was thinking, this is going to be really boring if this is all I do,” Christensen said.

He switched to consumer products and finally found what he truly loved. It was while reading a book on inventing and licensing that Christensen said he found his dream job.

In 2002, Christensen invented and sold his first big hit, a children’s toy called the “Blobble.” This was a ball/blob hybrid filled with air and gel. It was an experience his wife, Jill, remembers well.

“For over a month there were so many different concoctions of flour and water and glue and stuff,” Jill Christensen laughed. “It was such a mess.”

Being married to an inventor is a fun and interesting experience, Jill Christensen says. The Christensen home is full of new ideas, prototypes, games and even recipes.

“He loves to cook,” Jill Christensen said. “But he never follows the recipe precisely because he’s always changing it.”

Christensen’s children get firsthand experience with all of his new game ideas. His 12-year-old daughter, Anna, said she knows this experience well. Jokingly, she admits it can get old at times.

“My dad makes a lot of games,” Anna Christensen said. “He doesn’t test the games on us much anymore, but I remember Christmases when people would come over and Dad would say, ‘Hey! Want to play a new game?’”

Christensen is constantly thinking of ideas. He has notebooks full of ideas he has been collecting for years. Deciding which is a good idea depends on many things, but his wife plays a big part for some

“I tend to follow the ideas Jill likes. When she says, ‘Hey, that’s a good idea,’ I listen,” he said.

When engineering professor, Myles Christensen  isn't teaching or spending time with family at home, he can be found hard at work at his brand new shop, JiggaWatt Cycles, which specialized is electric bicycles. (Jeffrey Allen)
When engineering professor, Myles Christensen isn’t teaching or spending time with family at home, he can be found hard at work at his brand new shop, JiggaWatt Cycles, which specialized is electric bicycles. (Jeffrey Allen)

Christensen’s latest idea and entrepreneurial adventure is a shop selling motorized bicycles in Orem. Jiggawatt Cycles opened at the beginning of May and sells bicycles that have been augmented with small, battery-operated motors to help assist the rider.

Christensen spends a great deal of time working on his bikes in order to make them ideal for what his customers are looking for. He puts his mechanical engineering skills to good use in the repair shop he has in the back of his store.

The inspiration for Myles Christensen’s new shop came from the knowledge that there are various uses of and needs for bicycles. Due to the physical requirements, he tries to adapt his bikes in such a way that anyone can use them.

“There are people who enjoy biking,” he said, “but, due to health or other issues, [they] can’t ride bikes.”

One such person was a lady who had just gone through knee surgery. As she was unable to cycle on par with her husband and friends, cycling became a daunting experience. With the use of one of Myles Christensen’s motorized bikes, however, now she can use a bike without fear.

When Christensen isn’t teaching or spending time with family at home, he can be found hard at work at his new bike shop. 

Christensen’s family and customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from his entrepreneurial mindset. At BYU, his experience gives his students a unique look into the mechanical engineering world.

“One of the nice things about Myles is his industrial experience,” said professor Larry Howell. “Working with companies and his real-world experience is a valuable thing for his students.”

This history with inventions, entrepreneurial investments and consulting gives Christensen’s students a real look into the world of mechanical engineering. “It’s fun to show my students that this is what I do on a daily basis,” he said.

Whether he’s playing games with his family at home, working on bicycles in his shop or teaching his students at BYU, Christensen is always thinking of new ideas to share with those around him. Not one to be discouraged, he learns from each failure so each new idea is better than the last.

“You have to fail often so you can learn how to succeed,” he said.

 

 

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