April 8, 2000
Texans chronicle entertainment
The assigned task was to fill and seal a time capsule with a minimum of seven items representing the greatest inventions of the 20th century. But the team of students from the University of Texas at Austin took that a few steps further, using 18 items symbolizing the best entertainment of the 20th century instead. Their contraption, "Rube Golberg's Entertainment Machine," defeated six other entries to claim the national championship trophy and the $250 first prize.
"History doesn't always record the ways in which people amused themselves," explained team spokesman Chad Bruns of Sugarland, Texas. "Because Rube Goldberg entertained millions with his cartoons, we thought it appropriate to put entertainment items into our time capsule."
The late cartoonist was famous for his drawings of complex, whimsical machines that performed simple tasks. The contest challenges students to build machines that Goldberg himself might have drawn. All entries must complete the assigned task in a minimum of 20 steps and within a time limit. Points are deducted for human intervention.
The second-place prize of $150 and the People's Choice Trophy went to a University of Toledo team and their "Touring America" machine. Third place and a $50 prize went to a team from Purdue University's Society of Women Engineers and their machine called "Traveling Through Time." Other competitors were Vanderbilt University, Oakland (Michigan) University, Hofstra University and Northern Illinois University.
The winning machine utilized coins, billiard balls, PVC tubing, Tupperware containers, fishing weights and a series of levers and pulleys to load a moving Plexiglas cylinder. Items representing spectator sports, popular toys, cartoon and film characters and the entertainment giant Disney were all placed in the time capsule. The Elliott Hall of Music audience of about 500 people was particularly delighted when a toy dump truck rolled over the character Kenny from the irreverent animated show "SouthPark."
Bruns said the team spent about $300 on materials and invested about 1,000 hours of labor in the machine. But the greatest challenge was getting the contraption from Austin to West Lafayette.
"We designed it from the very beginning to be transportable," Bruns said. "The base is made of four pieces so we could take it apart for the 1,200-mile trip to Purdue. We arrived with about three hours to spare and were able to get it running pretty quickly."
Other members of the Texas team, all members of their university's student chapter of the of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, are: Daniel Booth of Austin, Texas; Neal Tanner of Barnet, Texas; Kirsten Christopherson of DeSoto, Texas; Nikolas Lane of Georgetown, Texas; John Franco, Jeff Krimmel and Justin Olsen, all of Katy, Texas; Bruns of Sugar Land, Texas; and Edward Sutherland of Temple, Texas.
The contest is sponsored by Purdue's Theta Tau fraternity with financial support from Newark Electronics and Dell Computer Corp.
Sources: Chris Piano, contest chairman, (765) 743-5276, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chad Bruns, (512) 442-8107, email@example.com
Writer: Sharon A. Bowker, (765) 494-9723, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com
Neal Tanner of Barnet, Texas, adjusts a mechanism on "Rube's Entertainment Machine" before his team's winning run at the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on Saturday (4/8) at Purdue University. The winning team was made up of members of the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers at the University of Texas at Austin. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Rube.nat00.winner
Ryan Heitkamp from the University of Toledo watches closely as his team's machine, "Touring America," takes home the People's Choice Award at the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue University on Saturday (4/8). The machine was designed by the Toledo student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Rube.nat00.pc