Posted on Apr 30, 2009

Students participate in the ninth annual Rube Goldberg Competition

Winners of the ninth annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, held Saturday at Union’s Fieldhouse, can proudly say they’ve mastered a skill some people take years to perfect. They can all whistle, or rather, the machines they built can.

This year’s engineering competition challenged 24 teams, made up of 112 middle and high school students, to design overly complicated machines capable of blowing whistles.

And the winners are:

First Place: Goin’ for Goldberg, Granville High School, Advisor Gary Gendron

Second Place: N-Tec, Niskayuna High School, Advisor Jack Gribben

Third Place: Girl Powered, North Warren Central School, Advisor Eric Welch

“Students who participate gain experience in team work, engineering, science, math and building,” said James Hedrick, professor of electrical and computer engineering, who directs the event.

Area middle and high school students participate in the ninth annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

Competitors from past years, he noted, have gone on to become Union students.

The contest is named for the late Rube Goldberg, an engineer and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist. His cartoons, depicting “inventions” that epitomized “man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to accomplish minimal results,” appeared in thousands of daily newspapers between 1914 and 1964.

In keeping with that theme, the contest involves making simple, ordinary undertakings unnecessarily complex and convoluted. It takes a two or three-step task, like blowing a whistle, and asks participants to create machines to accomplish that task in at least 20 steps.

Event sponsors include GE Volunteers, KAPL, Lockheed Martin and the Schenectady Museum.

The first place machine will be on display at the Schenectady Museum during May. For more information, click here.