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Shawn Jordan, captain of the winning Purdue team, describes how the different perspectives of team members add to the problem-solving skills of the group. (24 seconds)

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Miles Davis, local chairman of the Rube Goldberg contest, says he is pleased that the teams incorporated themes to increase the entertainment of the competition. (21 seconds)

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Purdue Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest
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March 4, 2006

Purdue students excel in Rube Goldberg inefficiency competition

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue University Society of Professional Engineers shredded their way to the top and won first place and the People's Choice award at the 23rd Purdue Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on the Purdue campus.

Society of Professional Engineers
2006 Regional Winners

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The team employed 215 steps to shred five sheets of paper in the annual competition that rewards inefficiency, complexity and creativity. The same team won last year and broke a world record by using 125 steps in a Rube Goldberg machine to put batteries in a flashlight and turn it on.

"In one part of our machine we used 100 steps just to play the Purdue fight song because we basically created a fully working mechanical player piano," said Shawn Jordan, captain of the winning team and a computer and electrical engineering graduate student from Fort Wayne, Ind. "To win the competition is great, but it means so much also to win the People's Choice award because that means we entertained people, too."

There were about 1,400 spectators at the competition.

Purdue chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers
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The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers adopted the theme "The Rube Machine Ate My Homework." The machine used a typical school day beginning with an alarm clock ringing and ending with a fire-breathing dragon "eating" five sheets of completed "homework." The machine employed pool balls, a tank of water, musical notes and numerous other objects to complete the task.

"It's a great feeling because we had a lot of challenges this year," Jordan said. "The building where we usually work on our Rube Goldberg machine collapsed, so we lost about six weeks of production. We spent a total of about 4,000 hours building our machine."

The team now advances to the national competition set for 10:30 a.m. April 1, also on the Purdue campus.

Society of Hispanic
Professional Engineers

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"The teams had to use 20 or more steps, but all of them used many more than that," said Miles Davis, a sophomore in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Theta Tau's Purdue regional contest chairman. "It is fun and exciting, but most people don't realize how much work goes into building a Rube Goldberg machine."

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, which took second place, called their machine "Boiler-Up" and shredded sheets of paper representing some of Purdue's biggest athletic competitors: University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University, Penn State, Michigan and Indiana University.

"We stayed up for the past four nights working on this machine, and we are all exhausted, but it was worth the effort and all the hard work," said Sebastian Chavez, a sophomore in industrial engineering from Guayaquil, Ecuador. "We wanted to show Boilermaker pride."

The competition pays homage to the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks.

"This competition is all about our next generation of engineers, our next generation of astronauts, our next generation of biologists, our next generation as a whole," said Jay Gore, the Vincent P. Reilly Professor in Mechanical Engineering and keynote speaker at the event. "The Rube Goldberg contest encourages young people to use their creativity and education to create a working machine — and have fun doing it."

Machines in the competition had three attempts to complete two successful runs. Teams lost points if they had to manually assist their machines.

Other teams competing in the event were the: Society of Women Engineers, Purdue Society of Professional Engineers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers and Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society.

In addition to successfully completing the task, teams received points based on creativity and complexity.

Phi Chapter of Theta Tau fraternity sponsors the event. Other sponsors include General Electric Co., Motorola Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., BAE Systems and Fellowes Inc. Purdue's College of Engineering and College of Technology also support the event.

Winners of the regional competitions held around the nation will come to Purdue for the April 1 national competition. In past years, teams in the national competition have included the University of Texas at Austin, Hofstra University, Ohio State University, the University of Toledo and George Washington University. This year marks the 18th national contest.

In previous contests, students' machines have been required to select, clean and peel an apple; make a cup of coffee; toast a piece of bread; put a stamp on an envelope; and drop a penny into a piggybank.

Rube Goldberg and the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest are the trademark and copyright of Rube Goldberg Inc.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192, csequin@purdue.edu

Sources: Miles Davis, (614) 791-8740, mwdavis@purdue.edu

Shawn Jordan, (765) 532-3408, ssjordan@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

 

Note to Journalists: Video clips will be posted at the same Web site on Monday, and broadcast-quality video clips are available by contacting the Purdue News Service at (765) 494-2096. For questions or assistance, contact Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192 or (317) 938-5209 (cell), csequin@purdue.edu, or Jesica Webb, (765) 426-1071 (cell), jwebb@purdue.edu.

 

PHOTO CAPTION:
Shawn Jordan, a graduate student in computer engineering from Fort Wayne, Ind., and Robert Mann, a sophomore in civil engineering from Fort Wayne, celebrate the winning run in the regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest of their machine, sponsored by the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers. Their machine today (March 4) beat out five other Purdue student groups and will represent Purdue at the national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on the Purdue campus on April 1. The competition pays homage to the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks. While the competition required a minimum of 20 steps to individually shred five sheets of paper, most teams used many more than that to complete the task. This year's winning machine used a contest record 215 steps. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2006/rubelocal-06win.jpg

PHOTO CAPTION:
Bryson Hayes, a freshman in materials engineering from Fort Wayne, Ind., (from left), Jordan Campbell, a freshman in mechanical engineering from Chicago, and Alice Madjani, a freshman in construction engineering and management from Louisville, Ky., watch intently, hoping for a successful run of their entry in the regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. The students are members of the Purdue chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. The competition took place today (March 4) on the Purdue campus. The competition pays homage to the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks. While the competition required a minimum of 20 steps to individually shred five sheets of paper, most teams used many more than that to complete the task. This year's winning machine used a contest record 215 steps. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2006/rubelocal-06blk.jpg

PHOTO CAPTION:
Sebastian Chavez, a sophomore in industrial engineering from Guayaquil, Ecuador (left), watches their machine finish a run, while Cesar Lozano, a senior in mechanical engineering from Monterrey, Mexico (facing front), and Mariano Sanchez, a sophomore in industrial engineering from Ensenada, Mexico, celebrate. The students are members of the Purdue chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. The competition took place today (March 4) on the Purdue campus. The competition pays homage to the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks. While the competition required a minimum of 20 steps to individually shred five sheets of paper, most teams used many more than that to complete the task. This year's winning machine used a contest record 215 steps. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2006/rubelocal-06hisp.jpg

 

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