25th national Rube Goldberg contest set for March 31
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - It's going to be a balloon-popping party when eight college teams compete in the 25th annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on March 31 at Purdue University.
The contest, sponsored by Purdue's Phi Chapter of Theta Tau engineering fraternity, rewards machines that most effectively combine creativity with inefficiency and complexity to complete a simple task.
This year, teams have designed machines that will inflate and then pop a balloon.
The contest's namesake is the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks.
So far, eight college teams are scheduled to compete. They include previous winners Purdue, St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minn., and Ferris State University of Big Rapids, Mich. Other teams expected to compete are from the University of Illinois, University of Texas, Pennsylvania State University, University of Arizona, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Also attending this year's competition will be Jennifer George, Rube Goldberg's granddaughter and the director of legacy for Rube Goldberg Inc.
"I love coming to Purdue, the Holy Grail of Rube Goldberg Machine competitions," George said. "It's exciting to meet the teams and watch their machines in action. Every year I'm amazed by the scale of the event and its influence on young minds worldwide. I'm happy to say, thanks to Purdue and hundreds of other schools nationwide, my grandfather's legacy is stronger than ever."
While 20 steps is the minimum number required to complete the task, most teams will use many more. For instance, the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers have a machine that uses 300 steps to trace the history of the Rube Goldberg contest.
Last year, the same team created a machine that had 244 steps, winning it a spot in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for most steps by a Rube Goldberg machine.
The national contest, held in Purdue's Elliott Hall of Music, is free and open to the public. The contest begins at 9 a.m. Doors open at 8 a.m.
Sponsors for this year's competition are Alcoa, Lockheed Martin, Priio, Rockwell Collins, and the Purdue Colleges of Engineering and Technology and the School of Mechanical Engineering.
Rube Goldberg earned a degree in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1904. He worked as an engineer for the city of San Francisco for less than a year before becoming a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his political cartoons published by the New York Sun.
The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest dates back to 1949 when it began as a competition between two Purdue fraternities. It was held until 1955, then revived in 1983 and opened to all Purdue students. The first national contest was held in 1988.
Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, email@example.com
Source: Derek Lee, Theta Tau national contest chairman, firstname.lastname@example.org