Rube Goldberg Society second in nation for pouring a bowl of cereal the hard way
Continuing their streak of success, MechSE’s Rube Goldberg Society placed second in the 2018 national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.
Six university teams competed in the collegiate event, organized by Rube Goldberg, Inc. and which took place at the Museum of Science and industry in Chicago in late April. The task at this year’s competition? Pour a bowl of cereal.
“Our machine could use as many steps as we wanted, but you get more points for more steps. Our team had about 75 steps,” said Angela Wiscons, the team’s vice president of membership. (A step is a transfer of motion, so any time something moves or triggers another motion, that counts as a step.)
Rube Goldberg, of course, refers to an over-the-top complicated invention created to perform a simple operation. The Rube Goldberg method challenges traditional solutions to problems, and forces students to think unconventionally and innovatively.
The Illinois team’s machine had a pirate ship theme and incorporated mechanisms such as weighted pulleys, saltwater circuits, and mini marble tracks, to name a few.
“The final design has no mechanical advantage and the outcome is really complicated, and that in and of itself is the challenge,” said Wiscons.
The University of Illinois team was formed in the fall of 2008 to compete in collegiate Rube Goldberg contests. Each spring, they participate in a regional competition held at Purdue University, and if successful, move on to the national level. They also demonstrate their machines at EOH and provide demonstrations and outreach to children at area schools.
Rube Goldberg was a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist with an engineering education. Best known for his “invention” cartoons, he illustrated comical solutions for “How to Get the Cotton Out of an Aspirin Bottle,” a “Self-Operating Napkin,” and others. Rube Goldberg, Inc. is a nonprofit organization working to promote STEM and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education for students of all ages.