* Purdue Rube Goldberg

March 23, 2007

Teams use creativity, inefficiency to 'squeeze' the most from national Rube Goldberg competition

2007 Purdue Rube regional winners
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It will be a squeeze to the finish as teams of university students from around the nation find new and inefficient ways to get juice from an orange on March 31 at the 19th annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue University.

The competition rewards creativity and inefficiency by having students come up with interesting and contorted ways to complete an assigned task. This year's task is to take a whole orange, squeeze the juice from it and then pour the juice from a pitcher into a glass using 20 or more steps.

The contest, which is free and open to the public, begins at 10:30 a.m. in the Purdue Armory. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be available for purchase at the event.

A Purdue team has won the national competition for the past four years. The Purdue Society of Professional Engineers team advanced to the national competition after winning this year's preliminary contest on Feb. 24 at Purdue. The team has won the regional competition for three consecutive years and received the People's Choice Award for the past two years.

More than 1,500 people attended the regional competition.

The Phi Chapter of the Theta Tau fraternity at Purdue organizes the contest.

"We are expecting eight universities to bring their Rube Goldberg machines to the national competition," said Dan Kleinbaum, Theta Tau national contest chairman and a senior in the School of Mechanical Engineering from Ann Arbor, Mich. "Every year the students raise the bar on how elaborate and creative they make the machines.

"Based on past years' entries, the competition to design the best Rube Goldberg machine will be formidable. Students work hundreds of hours to make their machines the most inefficient and entertaining contraptions possible."

Teams competing in this year's national competition are: Purdue; Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.; Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Mich.; University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati; University of Texas-Austin, Austin, Texas; Texas A&M, College Station, Texas; Washington State Community College, Marietta, Ohio; Penn State, Centre County, PA, and the University of Central Florida, Orlando.

The contest's namesake is the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks.

While 20 steps is the minimum number required to complete the task, most teams will use many more. For example, the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers used 134 steps to squeeze the juice from an orange and pour the juice into a glass to win Purdue's regional competition.

Winning machines must complete two successful runs, and points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. Judges award points based on the creative use of materials and related themes.

In previous contests, students' machines have been required to select, clean and peel an apple; toast a piece of bread; put a stamp on an envelope; and drop a penny into a piggy bank. Winners have appeared on television shows nationally, including CBS' "This Morning," ABC's "Good Morning America," NBC's "Today," "Newton's Apple," "Ripley's Believe it or Not," the Fox News Network and CNN. Last year's winner appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192,

Source: Dan Kleinbaum, (734) 417-7254,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists:  Journalists are invited to cover the contest. Purdue will provide video and photo pool coverage of the event. Video of the competition will be distributed via satellite shortly after the contest. An ISDN line is available for radio interviews. A news release, photos and audio clips will be available the afternoon of the contest. For more information, contact Cynthia Sequin at the Purdue News Service, (765) 494-4192,

Purdue students Michael Stumpf, from left, Greg Bauman and Drew Wischer celebrate the winning run of their machine at the regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. Their team, the Society of Professional Engineers, claimed its third consecutive regional competition win with a machine that used 134 steps to squeeze juice from an orange into a pitcher and then pour the juice into a glass. Their machine will compete in the national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on the Purdue campus March 31. (Purdue News Service file photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality file photo is available at

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