Illinois team takes second at national Rube Goldberg contest


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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