Last Saturday April 21, the Sierra College Physics and Engineering Club came away with top prizes at two Rube Goldberg Machine Competitions. The club competed at UC Davis Picnic Days between noon and 2 pm, taking second place ($200), and then traveled to UC Berkeley for Cal Days, competing around 5 pm where they won first place ($600). The Sierra College club, which has 16 members, has been working on their ‘Cirque de Sierra’ machine for the last 4 months. “This is the club’s second year to win,” commented Phil Pattengale, Sierra Engineering Professor and Club Advisor, “last year they came home with the first place from UCD and this year we won at Cal. This is pretty impressive when you consider that these are working students competing with students from the Universities in their own house.”
Both events were sponsored by the Theta Tau fraternity, the oldest and largest professional fraternity in the field of engineering. The competitions highlight the inspiring work of the late engineer and cartoonist Reuben Garrett Lucius Goldberg. His cartoons combined simple machines and common household items to create complex, wacky, and diabolically logical machines that accomplished mundane and trivial tasks. Rube Goldberg is the only proper name included in Webster’s Dictionary as an adjective, referring to “accomplishing by extremely complex, roundabout means what seemingly could be done simply.” An example of a Rube Goldberg machine is the family board game Mouse Trap.
To view the award winning Sierra machine in action go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki-gKaOZfRQ.