Video: Rube Goldberg Machine Contest honors making the simple complex

March 09, 2010

University Park, Pa. — A Pulitzer Prize winning artist and cartoonist, Rube Goldberg was best known for his "invention" cartoons depicting overly complex devices that perform everyday tasks. In the words of Goldberg, his machines were "a symbol of man's capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results."  

At Penn State's fifth annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, four teams of students presented contraptions that captured the spirit of Goldberg's art. Each machine -- required to dispense an appropriate amount of hand sanitizer into a hand in 20 or more steps -- was judged by a panel of Penn State engineering alumni on theme, flow, success ratio and creativity. This year's winner, an Indiana Jones-inspired concept by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) team, moves on to Purdue University for the national competition.

All of the competitors' creations reflected teamwork and a flair for unusual engineering. Combining remarkable ingenuity with plenty of endurance and patience, each team came away from this year's contest with a sense of satisfaction in an exceedingly complicated job well done.

For a video produced by Patrick Mansell documenting this year's contest, visit /video/169571/2013/02/09/video-no-title.

For additional information, see the story on the 2010 contest at

Last Updated March 16, 2010