updated: 2/16/2012 12:39:33 PM
Purdue University says teams in this year's Rube Goldberg Machine Contest will have to build a complicated contraption to inflate and pop a balloon. The local competition is set for February 25 and the national event for university students will be next month at Purdue.
February 16, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It will feel like a party when collegiate and high school teams fill the Purdue University Armory for this year's local Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.
This year's challenge is to inflate and pop a balloon. The contest, sponsored by Purdue University's Phi Chapter of Theta Tau engineering fraternity, rewards machines that most effectively combine creativity with inefficiency and complexity to complete a given task.
The contest's namesake is the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks.
Three Purdue teams will compete Feb. 25 in this year's local competition. The winner will move on to the national contest, which will be at Purdue on March 31.
Five Indiana high school teams also will compete. The winner of that contest will go to the national competition March 17 at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.
The 30th annual local event will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Armory. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public and is part of Purdue's celebration of National Engineers Week.
The competition pits teams of students and their machines against each other with the goal of completing a simple task in the most complicated way possible. Teams will be judged on the complexity, creativity and ingenuity of their machines. The winning machine must complete two successful runs out of three attempts, and points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. Twenty steps is the minimum number required to complete the task, but most teams will use many more.
"We're going to make a lot of noise this year with all of the balloons popping," said Derek Lee, Theta Tau's national contest chairman. "It's a complex task that will require lots of creative and imaginative thinking."
Purdue teams competing in this year's local contest are the Purdue chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Purdue Society of Professional Engineers and Purdue Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists.
The high school event is coordinated by the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists. It will be run at the same time as the collegiate contest.
Scheduled to compete are teams from Owen Valley Community High School, Spencer; Kouts High School; Eastbrook High School, Marion; Anderson High School; and Wheeler High School, Valparaiso.
Sponsors for this year's event are Alcoa, Lockheed Martin, Priio, Rockwell Collins, Omega Engineering, and the Purdue Colleges of Engineering and Technology and School of Mechanical Engineering.
Rube Goldberg earned a degree in engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1904. He worked as an engineer for the city of San Francisco for less than a year before becoming a sports cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. He received a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his political cartoons published by the New York Sun.
More information on the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest can be found at http://www.rubegoldberg.com/ and at at http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/rubegoldberg/index.html
Source: Purdue University