2008 Rube Goldberg Competition at UT Austin

Links: www.Rube-Goldberg.com | UT Theta Tau | UT write-up | my links to past years

hamburger parts Assemble a hamburger consisting of no less than: one precooked meat patty, two vegetables and two condiments, sandwiched between two bun halves.


Note the duct tape directing us to the site of the competition. That is in keeping with the spirit of this event. I found a beehive of activity in the building. Students studying, oblivious to the impending event, students scurrying in and out the doors, and against the south wall were all these orange t-shirts advertising the 2008 Rube Goldberg Competition. Activities got underway with introduction of the faculty judges:

thanking Lockheed Martin for their corporate sponsorship for incidental costs in putting on the event.

Society of Women Engineers

thumb of machine steps

First up were the Society of Women Engineers. It did not go unnoticed that this year's entry did not involve the action of any rolling object down a track. Jumping ahead I can tell you that this machine was by far the most innovative of the entrants, which is to say Audacious! These are engineers and so devote less to dramatic speaking presentation than you might expect from, say, the School of Drama! Unfortunately, execution of their idea fell short of the inspiration... and it was all over so fast: snap, snap, snap we're done!

Theta Tau (UT Host for Rube Goldberg Competitions)

thumb of machine steps

Theta Tau developed a Las Vegas theme for building a hamburger. (Go figure.) The machine is wonderfully complicated as action moved from game to game. Their 1st attempt to run the machine unexpectedly allowed the blue smoke to get out of the starting motor. Their only doubleE had to fore go embarrassment to leap into trouble shooting mode.

As with the SWE, Theta Tau's verbal presenter got caught up in the technical aspects and had to be repeatedly prompted by a co-team member about the larger metaphor of the action sequence. "This is not a first class fulcrum actuated by the falling weight, but is a one-armed bandit bent on delivering a jackpot!".

As is par for the course the machine required several "helps" to continue on its way.

Gravitation of 32 ft/sec/sec is too high for a nice, slow, easy to perceive, progress of the previously described wonders. Its all over in seconds.


Paul Wedholm and Charlotte Bryan at the left and Jeffrey Mikeska to the right, all of AIAA.

Paul Wedholm and Charlotte Bryan with the UT AIAA machine The UT AIAA 2008 Rube Goldberg machine ready for operation The UT AIAA 2008 Rube Goldberg machine ready for operation Jeffrey Mikeska arms the UT AIAA 2008 Rube Goldberg machine. Jeffrey Mikeska arms the UT AIAA 2008 Rube Goldberg machine. thumbnail of UT AIAA 2008 Rube Goldberg machine steps

Man, this machine included everything, even a sink. Unique to this year's entrants was a nod to "parallel" computing at step 17. At that point things start happening twice as fast as already too fast. At least while the ball bearings roll around the sink you can appreciate what is happening real time.

Judging Criteria:
Judging is based on a 100 point scale broken down into the following categories:
  1. General Impressions (35 points)
    1. Theme (0 to 10 points)
    2. Rube Goldberg Spirit (0 to 10 points)
    3. Explanation/Description (0 to 5 points)
    4. Team Chemistry (0 to 5 points)
    5. Submitted Machine Description (0 to 5 points)
  2. Timing Issues (0 points)
    1. Description Length (-5 to 0 points)
    2. First Run Length (-10 to 0 points)
    3. Second Run Length (-10 to 0 points)
  3. Run Related (65 points)
    1. Completed Task Run One (0, 10, or 20 points)
    2. Completed Task Run Two (0, 10, or 20 points)
    3. Flow of machine easily followed (0 to 10 points)
    4. Rube Goldberg Style Steps (0 to 15 points)
    5. Human Interventions (-3 points each)
    6. Objects Leaving Machine (-5 points)
See some about past years at 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.
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