Student groups to showcase crazy contraptions at Rube Goldberg contest

February 21, 2011

Engineering students will compete this weekend to save our plants, one contraption at a time, in the sixth annual Penn State Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. The contest will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday in Presidents Hall at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Doors will open to the public at 1:30. Admission is free.

This year's national challenge is to design and build a machine that waters a plant in 20 or more steps.

Five Penn State student organizations are sponsoring teams this year: the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Society of Engineering Science, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers.

Teams will be judged by members of the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society, which sponsors the event. The winning team will be eligible to represent Penn State at the national competition at Purdue University on March 26.

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.

The college contest is designed to give students a break from conventional problem solving and encourage them to use their imagination.

Additional information is available online at

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Last Updated February 22, 2011