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July 2, 2008 > Hamburger-making device wins Rube Goldberg Contest

Hamburger-making device wins Rube Goldberg Contest

Submitted By AP Wire Service

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP), April 5. A team of Purdue University students who devised a contraption that delighted observers by preparing a hamburger in 156 complicated steps won Saturday's annual national Rube Goldberg Machine Contest.

The victory by the 17-member Purdue Society of Professional Engineers was the team's third such win in the last four years in this annual contest named for the late cartoonist known for his drawings of complicated devices performing simple tasks.

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, placed second in this contest at the Purdue Armory that was attended by more than 1,500 people. The University at Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y., was third.

After winning Purdue's regional Rube Goldberg Contest in February with a hamburger-making machine which then involved 101 steps, the team added 55 more steps to perfect their machine for the national competition (in April), said team captain Drew Wischer.

"We put 4,000 to 5,000 man-hours into this machine since September, and all the hard work has been well worth it," said Wischer, a senior in aviation technology from Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

The competition, sponsored by Phi Chapter of Theta Tau fraternity, rewards machines that most effectively combine creativity with inefficiency and complexity. Machines must complete the assigned task in 20 or more steps.

Winning machines must complete two successful runs. Points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. Judges award points based on the creative use of materials, team chemistry, flow of the machine and each machine's theme.

This year's task was to assemble a hamburger consisting of no less than one precooked meat patty, two vegetables and two condiments, sandwiched between two bun halves.

The Purdue team's winning machine included a conveyor belt that moved the buns. Each step played out before the backdrop of a global travel theme that ended at Purdue's West Lafayette for a tailgating party where the hamburger was assembled.

Other teams competing were Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan; Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan.; Penn State University Brandywine, Media, Pennsylvania, and the University of Texas-Austin.

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