Vitamin C :: Students Get Daily Dose of Vitamin C at Rube Goldberg Contest

Purdue University students will create complex machines to put the squeeze on oranges as they seek new ways to make juice during the regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.

The 24th annual event will take place at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 24, with the winner moving on to the March 31 national competition. Purdue teams have won the national competition for the past four years.

Both the regional and national events will take place in the Purdue Armory, with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. The contests, sponsored by Phi Chapter of Theta Tau fraternity, are free and open to the public.

For this year’s competition, the challenge is to squeeze the juice from an orange into a pitcher and then pour the juice into a glass.

Purdue teams registered to compete in this year’s regional contest are the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Purdue Society of Professional Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers. A team from Murray State University in Murray, Ky., also will participate.

The Indiana High School Rube Goldberg Machine Contest will follow the Purdue regional competition awards ceremony. The high school event is being coordinated by the Purdue Society of Women Engineers and will begin at 2 p.m.

“We’ve turned the event into a full day of fun,” said Sean Noonan, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering from Perrineville, N.J., and Theta Tau’s regional contest chairman. “We’ll also have food venders at the event so families can spend the entire day at Purdue. Because of the high school competition, we’re expecting the largest crowd ever.”

Indiana high schools participating in the event include the International School of Indiana, Indianapolis; Richmond High School, Richmond; Noblesville High School, Noblesville; Newburgh Christian School, Newburgh; Delphi Community High School, Delphi; Highland Senior High School, Anderson; Southport High School, Indianapolis; Greenfield Central High School, Greenfield; Guerin Catholic High School, Noblesville; Kouts High School, Kouts; Anderson Highland High School, Anderson; South Putnam Junior/Senior High School, Greencastle; and Mooresville High School, Mooresville. Brandywine High School of Niles, Mich., also will participate.

About 1,400 people attended last year’s regional contest.

The competition pits teams of students and their machines against each other with the goal of completing simple tasks in the most complicated ways possible. Teams will be judged by the complexity, creativity and ingenuity they use to design the machines and perform the task. The winning machines must complete two successful runs, and points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. While 20 steps is the minimum number required to complete the task, most teams will use many more.

Last year’s regional and national winning team, the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers, took 215 steps to shred five sheets of paper. The same team won the regional and national contests in 2005 with a machine that is now listed in the Guinness World Records as the largest working Rube Goldberg machine ever constructed.

This year contestants also will be able to bring their resumes to the event. The resumes will be given to judges and sponsors.

“This is the first year we have done this,” Noonan said. “It’s a great way for students to network with the judges and sponsors, who also are potential employers.”

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