WUSTL wins 2013 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest College Nationals

In a clever mockup of Rube Goldberg’s office, a complex contraption set off by a rolling ball bearing eventually drops a hammer on a nail

This year, a team from Washington University in St. Louis won the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest College Nationals. A video below captures the elaborate machine in action.

Named for the late cartoonist and inventor, the annual competition challenges college students to design a machine that uses the most complex processes to complete a simple task. Goldberg’s popular cartoon series depicted complex gadgets performing easy tasks in indirect, convoluted ways.

Devices in the competition must complete the task with a minimum of 20 steps. The WUSTL students designed a contraption that hammers a nail with maximal inefficiency.

Team members are: Amy Patterson and Harison Wiesman, sophomore and junior physics majors in Arts & Sciences, and Grace Kuo amd Alexa Lichtenstein, sophomore electrical engineering and senior mechanical engineering majors in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

The competition was held March 30 at the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio.

For more information, visit rubegoldberg.com.

Winning Rube Goldberg contraption hammers a nail with maximal inefficiency. Not only did the contraption, constructed by a four-member team, take the top prize this year, it also won in the Best Single Step category. Two steps actually tied for the award: “Post-It Slinky” and “Pouring Coffee.” For those of you who couldn’t quite place it, the voice at the end is the Staple’s “Easy Button.”