It may seem paradoxical, but the goal of this weekend’s engineering contest is to create the most inefficient machine possible.
Five Penn State teams have worked all semester, and some since the fall, to create a machine that can properly hammer a nail in more than 20 steps for the College of Engineering’ s 8th annual Rube Goldberg Contest. .
The contest’s name comes from the famous cartoonist Rube Goldberg . He was trained as an engineer, but through cartoons, he would poke fun at the new gadgets invented throughout his life.
The contest will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.
“The idea behind engineering is about doing things efficiently, and this contest is the opposite of that,” Multimedia Specialist for the College of Engineering Jane Harris said. “The idea of the contest is to be totally inefficient.”
With about 10 students on each of the five teams, the students work together to create the most inefficient machine possible in hopes of attending the national contest in Columbus, Ohio on March 30, Harris said.
Each team’s machine has a different theme every year. Last year, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers placed third at nationals for its kitchen-inspired contraption. This year, ASME team’s machine is Avenger, which incorporates as many of the Avenger superheroes as possible, Captain Alec Tanida said .
“We have a pretty good machine this year, and our team has been working really hard, so we think we have a chance at making nationals again,” Tanida (senior-bioengineering) said. “However, the competition has been getting harder and harder every year, so we will see how we do.”
Mike Rybar , captain of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, has been hard at work with his team since September. Their machine is based on Atari , a video game company responsible for Pac-Man and Dungeons and Dragons . Rybar’s team has been working hard this year because there are a lot of new members, he said.
“Last year, we went completely blind into the competition and had no idea what to expect, so we got blindsided,” Rybar (senior-electrical engineering) said. “Since I had participated last year, I was able to step up the bar for this year’s machine. I think we have some interesting stuff that hopefully will catch the judges’ attention.”
But Rybar also said he’s not participating solely to produce a machine.
“We hope to inspire the kids that come to the contest and see what we have been doing to do the same when they are older because of something that they saw when they were very young,” Rybar said.