sealPurdue News

January 18, 2002

Rube Goldberg contest rallies 'round flag-raising ingenuity

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Theta Tau Fraternity's 20th annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest will salute "Old Glory" Saturday, Feb. 9, at Purdue University.

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This year's student teams must build a machine to secure, raise and wave the national flag in at least 20 steps.

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

The local contest begins at 11 a.m. in the Elliott Hall of Music on the West Lafayette campus and is free and open to the public. The winners will represent Purdue April 6 in the national contest, which also will be at Purdue.

The winning machines must run successfully two times said the local contest chairman, Willie Karashin, of Dallas, Texas. 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 related themes.

"It is purely a coincidence that this task is so well-themed given recent events," Karashin said. "The task was actually selected in August."

This year Karashin said teams' will be limited to one minute to explain their machines. In past years no time limit was imposed.

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 piggy bank. Winners have appeared on "Late Night With David Letterman, "CBS' "This Morning," ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today," Newton's Apple" and CNN.

Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 494-2073,

Source: Willie Karashin, local contest chairman, (765) 743-0837,

Related Web sites:
Theta Tau Fraternity
Purdue News Service Rube Goldberg page

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Journalists are welcome on stage before and after the contest but will not be allowed on the stage with the machines during the competition. 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 Grant Flora at the Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2073,

Josh Hurst, a senior from Lafayette, Ind., celebrates a successful run of the winning entry in Purdue University's 2001 Rube Goldberg Machine contest. Built by the Purdue chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, the contraption, called "New York and The Big Apple," utilized more than 40 steps to select, clean and peel an apple. The team also won the 2001 national contest. The annual competition, inspired by cartoonist Rube Goldberg's work, requires students to design a machine that uses a complex process to complete a simple task. (Purdue University News Service File Photo by David Umberger)

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