Yes, Purdue University is my alma mater, and I am very proud that the Purdue Society of Professional Engineers team smashed its own Guinness world record for largest Rube Goldberg machine with a 300-step behemoth that flawlessly accomplished the simple task of blowing up and popping a balloon.
If you are not familiar with the Rube Goldberg, it is a contest to build a complicated feat of engineering to perform a very simple task. The contest was named after Rube Goldberg, a United States cartoonist who drew intricate diagrams of very complicated and impractical contraptions that accomplished little or nothing (1883-1970). In this contest (video below), the machine simply had to blow up a balloon and pop it. That’s it.
The team spent more than 5,000 hours constructing the machine that accomplished every task ever assigned in the competition’s 25-year history, including peeling an apple, juicing an orange, toasting bread, making a hamburger, changing a light bulb, loading a CD and sharpening a pencil.
Although I never participated in the contest, several of my engineering friends did, and it was so inspiring to see them totally engross themselves in their design. I hope you enjoy this incredible creation in the video. And yes, I applauded when it was done. It is very common for a small error occur thus causing the entire design to fail. This 300-step monstrosity is a phenomenal complicated and magnificently creative machine that performed without a hitch.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TEAM! (oh, watch in full screen at the 720p quality – can see the mechanics much more easily)
Purdue team smashes Rube Goldberg world record
Here is a drawing by Rube himself which is a simply fly swatter. I remember as a young child I was completely entranced by his drawings (and still am for that matter). I would carefully study each one, step by step, from “A” to “B”, all the way to the end all the while fully imagining the entire scene and contraption in my head.
“Hail, hail to ol’ Purdue, all hail to the old gold and black!….”
Rube Goldberg Site
Wikipedia: Rube Goldberg machine
Wired: Record-Breaking Rube Goldberg Machine Pops Balloon in 300 Steps