Illinois team takes second at national Rube Goldberg contest


4/6/2009

UPDATE: WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. [April 4, 2009] A team from the University of Illinois, led by engineering physics sophomore James Kryger, took second place in the 22nd annual national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at Purdue University on Saturday, March 28.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. [February 21, 2009] A team from the Illinois Rube Goldberg Society at the University of Illinois, led by engineering physics sophomore James Kryger won the 27th annual Purdue University regional Rube Goldberg Machine Contest, marking the first time a non-Purdue team has won the regional. The Illinois team now advances to the national competition March 28 at Purdue.

The Illinois Rube Goldberg Society, made up of students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, built a machine based on the board game Clue® called "Scene of the Crime." It followed various characters that were "murdered" along the way in various rooms. The machine featured dice, lead pipes, dominos, a plant that "grows," a magnet and a gripping mechanism that unscrewed an incandescent bulb and screwed in a compact fluorescent bulb. 

The Purdue Rube Goldberg contest, sponsored annually by Phi Chapter of Theta Tau fraternity, rewards machines that most effectively combine creativity with inefficiency and complexity.  This year's task was to build a machine that would utilize a minimum of 20 steps to replace an incandescent light bulb with a more energy-efficient lighting system.  The Illinois machine took 70 steps to complete the task. 

"Coming into the competition, we were a little nervous, but we were very excited to be here for the first time," Kryger said. "We were very pleased with our two perfect runs and are excited to come back to Purdue next month for the national contest." Kryger, of Park Ridge, Ill., was a member of the Maine South High School Rube Goldberg team for two years; Maine South won the 2006 Illinois state title.

Other members of the Illinois team are Justin Johnson (ECE), Mickey Mangan (MechSE), Ian Crane (Physics), Graham Stapleton (Aero), Cori Johnson (ECE), Steve Bettenhausen (ECE), Evan Schrock (ECE), Melissa Sorensen (CEE), Mike Altergott (MechSE), Doug Tanaka (Aero), Chris Walton (CEE), and Derek Walsh (MechSE).

"The Scene of the Crime" will be on display on March 13 and 14 during Engineering Open House in Room 106 Engineering Hall.

Recent News

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Associate Head for Graduate Programs and Professor S. Lance Cooper has been awarded the 2018 Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award of the Office of the Provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

One of the Campus Awards for Excellence in Instruction conferred annually at the campus’s Celebration of Teaching Excellence, this accolade recognizes sustained excellence in graduate student mentoring; innovative approaches to graduate advising; major impact on graduate student scholarship and professional development; and other contributions in the form of courses and curricula, workshops, or similar initiatives. Cooper was presented with the award on April 12, 2018.

The University of Illinois has received a three-year, $1 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to continue funding for the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Illinois. The program, started in 2015, supports underrepresented minority doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and math fields and is one of nine UCEMs throughout the country.

The UCEM emphasizes mentoring, professional development and social activities to build a community of scholars. The center hosts an extensive orientation program for new students, workshops and seminars in addition to financial support in the form of scholarships. The center also works with departments to set up a mentoring team for each scholar and monitors academic and research progress.

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Sir Anthony Leggett, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, turned 80 years old on March 26. To celebrate, the Department of Physics is hosting a physics symposium in his honor, with participants coming from around the world. The symposium, “AJL@80: Challenges in Quantum Foundations, Condensed Matter Physics and Beyond,” is targeted for physicists and requires pre-registeration. It begins tonight, Thursday evening, and will go through Saturday evening (March 29 – 31, 2018).

In conjunction with the symposium, two public presentations will be offered back-to-back on Friday, March 30, starting at 7:30 p.m., at the I Hotel and Conference Center’s Illini Ballroom. (1900 S. First St., Champaign). There is no admission fee and registration is not required—all are welcome.

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In a paper in Nano Letters ("Optical Voltage Sensing Using DNA Origami"), a research team, led by Keyser, Philip Tinnefeld from the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at Technical University Braunschweig, and Aleksei Aksimentiev from the University of Illinois at urbana-Champaign, has now reported for the first time, that a voltage can be read out in a nanopore with a dedicated Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensor on a DNA origami.