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WUSTL Wins National 2013 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

In a clever mockup of Rube Goldberg’s office, a complex contraption set off by a rolling ball bearing eventually drops a hammer on a nail.

by Diana Lutz

This year, a team from Washington University in St. Louis won the 2013 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest College Nationals. A video below captures the elaborate machine in action.image

Winning Rube Goldberg contraption hammers a nail with maximal inefficiency. Not only did the contraption, constructed by a four-member team, take the top prize this year, it also won in the Best Single Step category. Two steps actually tied for the award: “Post-It Slinky” and “Pouring Coffee.”

Named for the late cartoonist and inventor, the annual competition challenges college students to design a machine that uses the most complex processes to complete a simple task. Goldberg’s popular cartoon series depicted complex gadgets performing easy tasks in indirect, convoluted ways.

Devices in the competition must complete the task with a minimum of 20 steps. The WUSTL students designed a maximally inefficient contraption that begins with the rolling of a ball bearing and finally ends with the hammering of a nail. Their entry paid tribute to an imagined Goldberg office space.

Team members are Amy Patterson and Harison Wiesman, sophomore and junior physics majors in Arts & Sciences, and Grace Kuo and Alexa Lichtenstein, sophomore electrical engineering and senior mechanical engineering majors in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

The competition was held March 30 at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio.

Diana Lutz is senior science writer in the Office of Public Affairs.

For more information, visit rubegoldberg.com.

FRONTRUNNERS:

Link to VideoWUSTL Wins National 2013 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest In a clever mockup of Rube Goldberg’s office, a complex contraption, set off by a rolling ball bearing, eventually drops a hammer on a nail.

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