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LETU Engineering Students to Showcase Rube Goldberg Demonstrations April 5


LeTourneau University engineering students will showcase free demonstrations of ingenuity and creativity as several teams compete in the annual Rube Goldberg competition beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the Belcher Gymnasium of the Solheim Center on the main campus of LETU, 2100 S Mobberly Ave.

Students participating in this annual event are challenged to use a maximum number of energy transitions to create unique, yet trivial, inventions. The event is named after Rube Goldberg, an early 20th century cartoonist who was famous for making ridiculous machines to perform unimportant tasks. The idea of the demonstration is to foster the students' ingenuity and to prove Murphy's Law exists.

"An excellent example of a Rube Goldberg demonstration might be the popular children's board game from many years ago called 'Mouse Trap' by Milton Bradley," said engineering professor and Rube Goldberg sponsor Dr. Bill Graff. "In that game, there are many energy transitions, from a steel ball that travels through channels to a boot that kicks over a bucket, all ending with a mousetrap descending to trap a plastic mouse game piece.

"The Rube Goldberg demonstrations are always well-attended on campus because it's fun to see how complicated our engineering students can make even the most trivial of actions," Graff said. "Sometimes their inventions work great, but it is always a fun exercise in semi-futility that produces a lot of camaraderie among the students who build these machines."

A video screen will be set up in the gym to help viewers follow the progress of the inventions through their gyrations. Each invention takes nearly all night to set up for a five-to-10-minute demonstration. The inventions showcased aim at accomplishing such simple or ridiculous tasks as getting someone off a computer, determining who gets the last cookie, caring for a pet hamster, pushing a button, and playing simple music.

The students in each team and their team demonstrations are scheduled as follows:

Time Team Demonstration Name Team Members
3 p.m. 1 "The Wire Lickers" James Hilbish, Janelle Lemke, Benjamin Wolfgang
3:20 p.m. 2 "Double Stuffed or Nothing" Malcolm Galland, Matthew Martin, Louis Trevino
3:30 pm 3 "Team Hamster" Benjamin Balasa, John McClanahan, Stuart Miller
3:40 pm 4 "Big Red" Joel Elizondo, Peter Sculley, Danielle Walter
3:50 pm 5 "Rube Harmonic Symphony" Ian Barnes, Joshua Brake, Zachary Phillips

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