June 15, 2024


Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist, Pulitzer-prize winning author and sculptor with a wild imagination for inventions. According to rubegoldberg.com, he would draw, but never build, contraptions using “an elaborate set of arms, wheels, gears, handles, cups and rods, put in motion by balls, canary cages, pails, boots, bathtubs, paddles and live animals.” His machines could do simple tasks that any human could do, but made them interesting. That’s exactly what Conestoga’s second-year mechanical engineering robotics and automation students did on Nov. 16. Each team designed their own Rube Goldberg machine with the goal of delivering a doughnut and pouring coffee within 32 seconds and a minimum of eight stages. “Bonus marks were given for extra stages and for reliability (number of runs with no assistance),” said instructor Henry Kastner. The students built the contraptions using basic materials they had lying around and some things bought in stores. Dominoes, golf balls and marbles were some elements used in the devices. The Goldberg Experience Featuring Rube team made theirs out of colourful Kinex pieces. Students would get more bonus marks if the mechanism would run through the entire process without assistance from the students three times in a row. However, only one team had a perfect run after their third try. Facing challenges such as parts wearing out after too many attempts and making it all come together in the end, every team said reliability was their biggest challenge. “You have this idea, you build it and it should work, but every single time something changes. So making it work every time is the biggest challenge,” said Charles Renauld of The Goldberg Experience Featuring Rube. The teams spent countless hours working on the project. Some worked on it as a group, some were responsible for only one part and the group put it together in the end and some groups only had one or two members. Wesley Thomson and Jonathan Streeter worked on building the project for Team Reggin. They said they spent a total of about 16 hours building their device. “Even after all our hard work it still has a lot of problems,” Thomson said. Kastner said for next year’s class, he may make it a requirement to have more “bling” and noises coming from the machines.