sealPurdue News

February 1997

Rube Goldberg contest not for the technologically challenged

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,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- It's a technophobe's worst nightmare -- a machine that actually makes a computer MORE difficult to operate.

But that's what college students are building -- on purpose! -- for the 10th annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, to be held at 11:30 a.m. April 5 in Purdue University's Elliott Hall of Music. (NOTE: The date has been changed from March 29.)

The challenge of the contest is to build a machine that takes at least 20 steps to load a CD into a computer and run a program, or into a CD player and play music. The machines often incorporate objects scavenged from attics, toy chests and trash bins, including bowling balls, marbles, rubber tubing, old bicycle parts, hair dryers and electric drills.

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

Purdue's entry in the contest will be chosen this month in an all-Purdue contest. Additional entries will be chosen from regional contests held this month at other universities.

The national contest is organized by student members of the Purdue chapter of Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity, with support from Rube Goldberg Inc.

Each machine in the competition must run, be reset and run again in nine minutes. Machines also will be judged on the creative use of materials and use of related themes. Points will be deducted if human intervention is need for the machine to complete the task.

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

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

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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