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.

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At the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), over 200 physicists across dozens of institutions are collaborating on a project called COMPASS. This experiment (short for Common Muon and Proton Apparatus for Structure and Spectroscopy) uses CERN’s Super Proton Synchrotron to tear apart protons with a particle beam, allowing researchers to see the subatomic quarks and gluons that make up these building blocks of the universe. But particle beams aren’t the only futuretech in play – the experiments are also enabled by a heavy dose of supercomputing power.

New findings from physicists at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with researchers at The University of Tokyo and others, clarify the physics of coupling topological materials with simple, conventional superconductors.

Through a novel method they devised to fabricate bulk insulating topological insulator (TI) films on superconductor (SC) substrates, the researchers were able to more precisely test the proximity effect, or coupling when two materials contact one another, between TIs and SCs. They found that when the TI film is bulk insulating, no superconductivity is observed at the top surface, but if it is a metal, as in prior work, strong, long-range superconducting order is seen. The experimental efforts were led by physics Professor Tai-Chang Chiang and Joseph Andrew Hlevyack, postdoctoral researcher in Professor Chiang’s group, in collaboration with Professor James N. Eckstein’s group including Yang Bai, Professor Kozo Okazaki’s Lab at The U. of Tokyo, and five other institutes internationally. The findings are published in Physical Review Letters, which has been highlighted as a PRL Editors’ Suggestion.

  • Accolades

Illinois Physics Assistant Professor Barry Bradlyn has been selected for a 2020 National Science Foundation CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award. This award is conferred annually in support of junior faculty who excel in the role of teacher-scholars by integrating outstanding research programs with excellent educational programs. Receipt of this award also reflects great promise for a lifetime of leadership within the recipients’ respective fields.

Bradlyn is a theoretical condensed matter physicist whose work studying the novel quantum properties inherent in topological insulators and topological semimetals has already shed new light on these extraordinary systems. Among his contributions, he developed a real-space formulation of topological band theory, allowing for the prediction of many new topological insulators and semimetals.