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LeTourneau University Engineering Students to Present Rube Goldberg Demonstrations April 2, Public Invited


LeTourneau University engineering students will showcase free demonstrations of ingenuity and creativity as five teams compete in the annual Rube Goldberg competition Thursday, April 2. The competition is free and open to the public and begins at 3 p.m. 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.

Goldberg's inventions became so popular that the Webster Dictionary defines "Rube Goldberg" as "accomplishing by extremely complex, roundabout means what seemingly could be done simply."

The idea of the demonstration is to foster the engineering students' ingenuity and to engage them in critical thinking about the way their inventions make simple tasks even harder to complete.

Engineering professor and Rube Goldberg sponsor Mr. Oscar Ortiz said this year's examples of Rube Goldberg machines will be designed 1) to serve an iced drink, 2) to make a waffle, 3) to answer a cell phone, 4) to turn on a light bulb, and 5) to open a door.

All of these are simple tasks that the students will complete by adding several complex processes including pulleys. Rolling balls, falling dominoes, and many other fun transitions.
"Through this competition, our engineering students learn teamwork and that there are many ways to complete a task," Ortiz said. "They also learn that sometimes, a new way to solve a problem can lead to a new discovery or new invention. This event also teaches them that sometimes the simplest design is the best, and that machines are designed to make our work and our lives easier. But probably the most important thing the students learn is that Murphy's Law does exist, which states, 'If there is a possibility of something going wrong, it will go wrong.'"

A video screen will be set up in the Belcher Gym to help viewers follow the progress of these creative and complicated inventions through their gyrations. Each invention takes nearly all night to set up for a five- to 10-minute presentation. The students in each team and their team demonstrations are scheduled as follows:

Time Team Demonstration Name Team Members
3:10 p.m. 1 "Iced F-1" Ryan Carter, San Van Der Hoeven
3:20 p.m. 2 "Better than a Toaster" Joel Collier, Jordan Trewitt, Elise Beckemier
3:30 p.m. 3 "The new Ringtones: "Answer your Cell Phone" Tony Bujana, David Connelly
3:40 p.m. 4 "Nuclear Fusion Light Bulb" Jonathan Hebert, Nathan Strachen, Peter Cowles
3:50 p.m. 5 "Multistage Electromechanical Door Opener Abdul Mogharbel, Drew Overturf, Emanuel Villiger

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