Wednesday, April 18, 2001
On April 7, nine Purdue University students demonstrated a machine
capable of choosing, cleaning, and peeling an apple in no less than 41 steps;
not exactly a design of efficiency. Yet, their machine, "The Big Apple", won the
13th Annual National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. How is that possible, you
Named after the "Invention" cartoons that made Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) famous, the contest centers on developing convoluted solutions to simple tasks. The contestants' creations are judged on number of steps (at least 20 steps necessary), completion of task, creativity, and "the Rube Goldberg spirit."
The Purdue student chapter of the Society for Manufacturing Engineers used a variety of devices that pulled together electrical, mechanical, and potential energy, such as mousetraps for heavy objects, electro-relays, dc trains, elevated water, and a CO2 cartridge. The devices were all disguised in objects like a miniature jet plane flying out of LaGuardia Airport, or a King Kong figure climbing the Empire State Building.
Additional New York-related music clinched the title for the students. "We used a lot of creativity," said Eric Gossman, member of the winning Purdue team. "The judges seemed to like the theme."
Requiring about 800 extracurricular hours, the Purdue students each developed a step of the project, such as the indexer that selects the apple, and then combined their efforts to create the entire machine.
For more information, visit www.rubegoldberg.com/html/contest.htm.