sealPurdue Science, Engineering Briefs

March 2001

Insects and apples form core of Purdue's spring events

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University students suffering from spring fever will have two entertaining options available to them on the West Lafayette campus in April.

On April 7 Purdue will host the annual Bug Bowl and the 13th annual national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. The Bug Bowl – a celebration of all things creepy-crawly – features events on April 7-8.

Bugs a-plenty, bugs galore

Bugs hissing, bugs racing, bugs in a stew. Bug petting, bug study in a bug zoo. Bugs – and more bugs – are the featured attraction at Purdue's annual Bug Bowl, Saturday and Sunday, April 7-8.

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More than 10,000 people are expected to visit Bug Bowl, which offers unusual encounters with insects, bug demonstrations and experts available to offer advice on pest problems.

Events include an insect-themed cake decorating contest, an insects-as-food booth (which will offer, among other taste sensations, insect stir fry), a human caterpillar canter, an insect petting zoo, insect crafts, a butterfly exhibit and – a crowd favorite – cockroach racing at "Roach Hill Downs." New this year will be an exhibit of antique insect toys.

"The petting zoo features a millipede, Madagascar hissing cockroach and a tarantula," said Tom Turpin, professor of entomology. "Although the tarantula is not really a bug, it's a Bug Bowl favorite."

Bug Bowl is one of several events on the Purdue campus that weekend in conjunction with the Purdue Spring Fest. Other activities include the Boiler Barnyard; Boiler Brick Bowl, in which Purdue students compete in building brick structures; a make your own dinosaur bones exhibit; a horticulture show; a space food display and more. For a complete listing of Spring Fest activities, check out the Web site.

CONTACT: Tom Turpin (765) 494-9061.

'Big Apple' theme scores with Rube Goldberg judges

The student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers will represent the "home team" during the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest Saturday, April 7. The SME machine took top honors in Purdue's local contest on Feb. 10 with a tribute to New York City that also embraced this year's task: to select, clean and peel an apple.

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The group's machine, named "New York and the Big Apple," was among two of the five contraptions entered in the contest to complete the task without human intervention. All entrees were required to finish the job using at least 20 steps and within a time limit. The winning machine used more than 40 steps to win the first-place trophy, $250 and a full-size refrigerator from the contest's corporate sponsor, General Electric. The team also earned the right to represent Purdue in the national competition.

The national contest will be at West Lafayette High School. Last year teams from the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Toledo, Northern Illinois University, Oakland University, Marquette University and Northwestern University competed.

Previous contests have been featured on "Late Night With David Letterman," CBS' "This Morning," ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today," Newton's Apple" and CNN.

The contest honors the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical, complicated machines to perform very simple tasks. The student-built machines were judged on completion of the task, creativity, the number of steps involved and how well they embraced the Rube Goldberg spirit.

The "New York and the Big Apple" machine used items such as a golf ball painted like a Harlem Globetrotters basketball that bounced from a trampoline to a basketball hoop, a figure of King Kong climbing the Empire State Building, a pool ball rolling across the Brooklyn Bridge and a jet flying out of LaGuardia Airport. Music, including the Globetrotters theme, "New York, New York," "The Heart of Rock and Roll" and "Arthur's Theme," was timed to accompany the machine's progress.

CONTACTS: Fernando Cordero, contest chairman, (765) 743-2623,; Eric Gossman, SME team member, (765) 464-3437.

Cantilever software bridges gap
between design, production

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A high-tech start-up company in the Purdue Research Park is developing software to help large manufacturers of customized, high-value products reduce time to market and lower costs.

"What if your manufacturing organization could communicate efficiently and painlessly with engineering – in the early stages of product development – to significantly reduce the total time and cost required to design and deliver new products?" asks Julie Goonewardene, president of Cantilever Technologies.

This type of real-time communication will be made possible this year with the advent of the Readiness Engine™, Goonewardene says. The Readiness Engine™, a software system designed by Cantilever Technologies, organizes data from independent design and supply chain systems into a shared information base to improve the flow of a product through the design, engineering and manufacturing operations. Following a product testing phase involving selected clients, the Readiness Engine™ will be commercially available by mid-2001.

"Engineering decisions are often made in a vacuum because the existing information systems generally do not provide a shared database for decision-making, particularly in the design process. This is where many decisions are made that impact product functionality, quality and costs," says James Wallin, Cantilever's senior vice president and chief technology officer.

Traditionally, once a product was designed, little or no additional input from design engineers was required because manufacturers relied on an ongoing market for a stable product.

The Readiness Engine™, on the other hand, improves the transition from design engineering to production, reducing time to market and costs, Goonewardene says. The software is designed to reduce engineering change orders and synchronize engineering and production tools.

While engineers are well-versed in analyzing trade-offs or alternatives among various designs, Cantilever Technologies' system provides powerful systems support for the application of trade-off analysis to the entire production process, Goonewardene says.

For example, a manufacturer is deciding whether to buy metal to make its product or whether to take advantage of a drop in the market, and instead make its product out of plastic. The Readiness Engine™ allows the company's engineering department to rapidly reconfigure the product in response to material changes.

CONTACT: Julie Goonewardene, (765) 775-4552,

Compiled by Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Tom Turpin, Purdue professor of entomology, shows off a Madagascar hissing cockroach, left, and blaberus giganteus, the world's largest cockroaches by weight and measure, respectively. (News Service Photo/David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: Turpin.bugmug

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Josh Hurst, a senior from Lafayette, Ind., celebrates a successful run of the winning entry in Purdue University's Rube Goldberg Machine on Feb. 10. The entry will represent Purdue in the April 7 national competition (Purdue University 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: Rubelocal3.2001

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