Wacky machines to take center stage at Feb. 15 Rube Goldberg contest

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Teams representing seven student groups will compete in the 2014 Penn State Regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, in the Ballroom at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.

Sponsored by the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society, the contest is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 12:30 p.m.

Held annually, the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest challenges students to use innovative ideas, unconventional problem-solving skills and a little humor to design a machine that completes a simple task in a complex, roundabout way. This year's national challenge is to design and build a machine that zips a zipper in 20 or more steps.

Teams entering the 2014 Penn State contest include the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Harrisburg campus), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (University Park campus), the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association, the Engineering Leadership Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the Society of Energy Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

The top three teams will win trophies and cash prizes, and the winning team will be eligible to represent Penn State at the National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on April 12 at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio.

The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is named for the late cartoonist Reuben Lucius Goldberg (1883-1970). The award-winning engineer-turned-artist is best known for his "Inventions" cartoons, which poked fun at the new technology of his day by portraying simple machines and household gadgets in complicated and wacky ways. Goldberg's cartoons became so well known that Webster's Dictionary added the term "Rube Goldberg" to its listings, defining it as "accomplishing by extremely complex, roundabout means what seemingly could be done simply."

More information about the Penn State contest is available at www.engr.psu.edu/RubeGoldberg.

Last Updated February 17, 2014