sealPurdue News

January 1998

Making the simple difficult is object of Rube Goldberg Contest

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 Grady Jones, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079; e-mail,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Many of us have very creative ways for turning off an alarm clock, but Purdue University students will be building contraptions to do it for us at the 16th annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on Feb. 7.

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Several teams of Purdue students are building the most complicated and often humorous machines to get the job done. 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 April 4.

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 Theta Tau, a professional engineering fraternity that organizes the contest, with support from industrial sponsor General Electric.

The competitors are challenged to build a contraption that uses at least 20 steps to turn off an alarm clock. 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: Chad Goze, contest chairman, (765) 743-2461; e-mail,
Compiled by Amanda Siegfried, (765) 494-4709; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

A Purdue student resets his team's entry in the 1997 Rube Goldberg Contest. Duct tape and string were staple materials in creating the machine that loaded a compact disc into a CD player and played it. (Purdue News Service Photo by Vince Walter)
Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Rube98.local
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