sealPurdue News

January 2001

An apple a day the Rube Goldberg way

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Apples are at the core of Purdue University's 19th annual Rube Goldberg contest slated for Feb. 10.

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The competition honors the late cartoonist, Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks. Each year, students accept the challenge to build working machines that Goldberg himself might have dreamed up.

This year's machines must select, clean and peel an apple in 20 steps or more. The entire process must take nine minutes or less. Students traditionally combine principles of physics and engineering with common objects, such as rubber bands, marbles, mouse traps and bicycle gears when building their machines.

Points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. Teams also will be judged and awarded points based on the creative use of their materials and use of related themes.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be at 11 a.m. in Purdue's Elliott Hall of Music. The winner will represent the university in the National Rube Goldberg Contest at West Lafayette High School on April 7.

In previous contests, students' machines have been required to make a cup of coffee, toast a piece of bread, put a stamp on an envelope and drop a penny into a piggy bank.

Ten engineering students representing the Society of Women Engineers won last year's campus contest which honored the 20th century by filling a time capsule with the best inventions, ideas and discoveries of the century. The group's machine, named "Traveling Through Time," placed 10 items into the capsule in 37 steps.

More information is available at two World Wide Web pages:
Theta Tau Fraternity
Purdue University News Service

Leigh Ann Heider, a senior from Anderson, Ind., makes some final adjustments to the Purdue Society of Women Engineers machine during the 2000 National Rube Goldburg Machine Contest. (News Service file photo by David Umberger.)

A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Rube2001.preview

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Journalists will not be allowed on the stage with the machines during the competition, but they are welcome on stage before and after the contest. Purdue will provide video and photo pool coverage and direct audio and video feeds. An ISDN line is available for radio interviews. Video b-roll, photos and a news release will be available the afternoon of the event. Satellite assistance is available. Video and photographs of past contests are available. If you have questions, contact Jenny Pratt at the Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079,

CONTACT: Fernando Cordero, contest chairman, (765) 743-2623,

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