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.
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,
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.