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State championship of Rube Goldberg Machine Contest to be held May 12

James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
(217) 244-1073;


The Illinois State Championship Rube Goldberg Machine Contest for High Schools will be held in the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 12.

The contest pays homage to Goldberg, a satirical cartoonist best known for his designs of ridiculously complicated gadgets that performed the simplest tasks in whimsical, roundabout ways. Six high school teams will compete to be named the state’s best at building the zaniest machine to select, clean and peel an apple.

"The contest challenges students to apply basic engineering principles – along with odd pieces of equipment – in creative ways to accomplish a simple task through an elaborate process," said Ryan Chmiel, a UI computer engineering major and this year’s contest director. "This is one of the few times in life when wackier is better."

Each machine must use at least 20 steps to accomplish the task, Chmiel said. More than a dozen teams from central and southern Illinois high schools competed during the UI's Engineering Open House in March. The top three teams from that competition will now face the top teams from the Chicago area.

The six high schools competing are Casey-Westfield High School, Casey; Lovington High School, Lovington; Maine South High School, Park Ridge; Plainfield High School, Plainfield; West Leyden High School, Northlake; and William Fremd High School, Palatine.

Argonne National Laboratory and the UI Engineering Council are sponsoring the contest. The winning team will receive the Argonne Science Award trophy, a certificate and a donation of $600 to the school’s science department.