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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Video and photographs of past contests are available. 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. Video b-roll, photos and a news release will be available the afternoon of the event. Satellite assistance is available. If you have questions, call Amanda Siegfried, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-4709; e-mail,

January 1997

Making the simple difficult is object of Rube Goldberg Contest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- It's not always easy to get a computer to do what you want it to, but Purdue University students will make the task even more difficult at the 15th annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on Feb. 8.

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Several teams of Purdue students are building the most complicated and often humorous machines to load a CD into a computer and run a program, or into a CD player and play music. The contest, free and open to the public, begins at 11:30 a.m. in Purdue's Elliott Hall of Music.

The winner of the Purdue contest goes on to represent the university at the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, to be held at Purdue on March 29.

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

Teams expecting to compete include the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, a joint team of the Society of Women Engineers and Society of Physics Students, Purdue residence halls and contest sponsor Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity.

The contest is organized by student members of the Purdue chapter of Theta Tau, with support from industrial sponsor General Electric.

The competitors are challenged to build a contraption that uses at least 20 steps to load a CD into a CD player or computer and play it or run a program. Each machine must run, be reset and run again in nine minutes. Machines also will be judged and awarded points based on the creative use of materials and use of related themes.

In addition to cash prizes for the top three teams, a "People's Choice" award will be given to the team whose machine gets the most votes from audience members.

Student organizers of the contest maintain a World Wide Web page at

CONTACT: Daniel Colpi, contest chairman, (765) 743-2461; e-mail,

Writer: Amanda Siegfried (765) 494-4709, e-mail;
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

Photo Caption

At the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, the machines don't always work as planned, as these Purdue students learned the hard way during the 1996 contest. The challenge for the 1997 contest is to build a machine that uses at least 20 steps to load a CD into a computer and run a program, or into a CD player and play music. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Special Collections/1997
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