Tribute to Inefficiency


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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – Volume  43 Number  6

Louisiana ghost tale mechanism wons rube goldberg contest

A team from the University of Winconsin-Stout won the 24th annual Rube Goldberg Machine Contest on March 26 at Purdue University. This year’s task was to water a plant with a contraption that combined  creativity with inefficiency and complexity. Wisconsin-Stout’s machine accomplished the task with 135 steps while telling the tale of a deserted Louisiana estate whose ghosts come to life with the full moon. The storyline drove the steps for the handcrafted contraption.

Machines must complete the task in at least 20 steps and take no more than two minutes. They have three tries to complete two runs, and points are deducted if students have to help the machine. The Winconsin-Stout machine completed one run with no interventions and one run with one intervention.

Goldberg drew whimsivcal machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks. He worked as an engineer and a cartoonist, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for his political cartoons published in the New York Sun.