March 4, 2006|
Purdue students excel in Rube Goldberg inefficiency competitionWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The Purdue University Society of Professional Engineers shredded their way to the top and won first place and the People's Choice award at the 23rd Purdue Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on the Purdue campus.
"In one part of our machine we used 100 steps just to play the Purdue fight song because we basically created a fully working mechanical player piano," said Shawn Jordan, captain of the winning team and a computer and electrical engineering graduate student from Fort Wayne, Ind. "To win the competition is great, but it means so much also to win the People's Choice award because that means we entertained people, too."
There were about 1,400 spectators at the competition.
"It's a great feeling because we had a lot of challenges this year," Jordan said. "The building where we usually work on our Rube Goldberg machine collapsed, so we lost about six weeks of production. We spent a total of about 4,000 hours building our machine."
The team now advances to the national competition set for 10:30 a.m. April 1, also on the Purdue campus.
The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, which took second place, called their machine "Boiler-Up" and shredded sheets of paper representing some of Purdue's biggest athletic competitors: University of Notre Dame, Ohio State University, Penn State, Michigan and Indiana University.
"We stayed up for the past four nights working on this machine, and we are all exhausted, but it was worth the effort and all the hard work," said Sebastian Chavez, a sophomore in industrial engineering from Guayaquil, Ecuador. "We wanted to show Boilermaker pride."
The competition pays homage to the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks.
"This competition is all about our next generation of engineers, our next generation of astronauts, our next generation of biologists, our next generation as a whole," said Jay Gore, the Vincent P. Reilly Professor in Mechanical Engineering and keynote speaker at the event. "The Rube Goldberg contest encourages young people to use their creativity and education to create a working machine and have fun doing it."
Machines in the competition had three attempts to complete two successful runs. Teams lost points if they had to manually assist their machines.
Other teams competing in the event were the: Society of Women Engineers, Purdue Society of Professional Engineers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers and Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society.
In addition to successfully completing the task, teams received points based on creativity and complexity.
Phi Chapter of Theta Tau fraternity sponsors the event. Other sponsors include General Electric Co., Motorola Inc., Kimberly-Clark Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., BAE Systems and Fellowes Inc. Purdue's College of Engineering and College of Technology also support the event.
Winners of the regional competitions held around the nation will come to Purdue for the April 1 national competition. In past years, teams in the national competition have included the University of Texas at Austin, Hofstra University, Ohio State University, the University of Toledo and George Washington University. This year marks the 18th national contest.
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 piggybank.
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Shawn Jordan, a graduate student in computer engineering from Fort Wayne, Ind., and Robert Mann, a sophomore in civil engineering from Fort Wayne, celebrate the winning run in the regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest of their machine, sponsored by the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers. Their machine today (March 4) beat out five other Purdue student groups and will represent Purdue at the national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on the Purdue campus on April 1. The competition pays homage to the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks. While the competition required a minimum of 20 steps to individually shred five sheets of paper, most teams used many more than that to complete the task. This year's winning machine used a contest record 215 steps. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)
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