Campus engineering students compete in Rube Goldberg contest

March 18, 2009

A team of engineering students from Penn State New Kensington competed Feb. 28 in the fourth annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at the University Park campus.

Dana Horn, Derek Stoecklein, Mike Writt, Tim Panzigrau, Ryan Hagofsky, Joe Redovan, Ben Brady and Stephanie Powell joined four other teams of Penn State engineers for a competition that challenged the students to build a machine that makes a simple task as complicated as possible. The contest is named for the late engineer-turned-cartoonist Reuben Lucius Goldberg.

The competition involved replacing an incandescent light bulb with a more energy efficient light-emitting design in 20 or more steps. The New Kensington crew, comprised of members of the Society of Women Engineers, a campus club, designed their machine to look like a construction zone.

“Last year we didn’t finish our project (a machine that could assemble a hamburger) on time and we didn’t make it to the competition,” said team captain Dana Horn. “This time we wanted to be ready, so we started working on the machine in December.”

The students built and tested their contraption in Horn's garage. During the contest, they donned hard hats and neon yellow safety vests to run their machine. Although they didn't garner first-place honors, the New Kensington project was the only one in the competition that ran to completion during both official runs.

"Our students did an excellent job from the moment they decided to enter the competition," said Joan Kowalski, senior instructor of engineering and adviser to the club. "I am so very proud of every single one of them."

For more about the competition, visit



(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009