ASME student team takes second place at national Rube Goldberg contest

The Penn State American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) took second place at the national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue University Saturday.

The team earned a trip to nationals after winning the Penn State competition for the third consecutive year Feb. 26.

The Rube Goldberg contest requires teams to design and build a contraption that executes a trivial task in the most elaborate way possible. This year's challenge was to build a machine that waters a plant in 20 or more steps.

ASME's machine had a Penn State sports theme, complete with a mock-up of Beaver Stadium and Joe Paterno. Penn State-themed music and chants played as the machine ran.

The team won third place in the 2010 national competition at Purdue with its Indiana Jones-themed machine.

A team from the University of Wisconsin-Stout won first place in this year's national contest for the second year in a row. Its machine had 135 steps and told the story of a haunted Louisiana estate. The University of Texas placed third.

Other schools with competing teams included St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minn.; Ferris State University of Big Rapids, Mich.; University of Illinois; Washington State Community College; Virginia Commonwealth University; Genesee Community College of Batavia, N.Y.; and Texas A&M University.

The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is named after cartoonist and inventor Reuben Lucius Goldberg, who created cartoons in the mid-1900s that combined simple machines and common household items to create wacky contraptions that accomplished trivial tasks.

Goldberg's granddaughter, Jennifer George, attended Saturday's competition and announced that the task for next year's competition will be for machines to blow up and then pop a balloon.

Additional information is available online at www.engr.psu.edu/RubeGoldberg.

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Last Updated March 29, 2011