BYU College of Engineering hosts virtual Rube Goldberg challenge

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Cosmo holds a sign to advertise the first ever virtual BYU Engineering Rube Goldberg challenge. Cosmo built a Rube Goldberg machine in the atrium of the Engineering Building to advertise the challenge and even slid down the EB stairs in a kayak. (BYU Engineering)

The Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering hosted a virtual Rube Goldberg challenge over winter break and will announce the winners on Friday, Feb. 5.

Engineering students and alumni were challenged to create a 15-second Rube Goldberg machine with their family and friends.

A Rube Goldberg machine is “a contraption that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction,” according to the BYU Engineering website.

The submissions were linked together to create one huge Rube Goldberg machine in a video. For each submission, the College of Engineering donated $10 to diversity and inclusion initiatives for engineering students.

There will be one grand prize winner chosen by random selection from the pool of entries, as well as winners chosen by BYU Engineering judges in each of the following categories: most unusual objects, most BYU spirit, best use of engineering, most fun and most aesthetic. A second grand prize winner will be chosen by popular vote.

Voting will continue online until Thursday, Feb. 4 at midnight. Anyone can vote for their favorite by commenting the name of the individual they would like to win on this Facebook post.

Jordyn Crowley Watts, BYU College of Engineering communications manager, said she was overwhelmed by the response of the students and alumni who submitted videos.

“We had an outpouring of submissions featuring limitless BYU (and Star Wars) paraphernalia, creative engineering, and most importantly, families working together to build something awesome and memorable over the holiday break,” Watts said.

Matthew Raun, a BYU alumnus who studied mechanical engineering, said it was indeed a family affair. “Both of my sisters, both of my parents, my brother-in-law, and my wife and son were all involved in trying to get it to work,” he said.

His family helped create a Rube Goldberg machine that included a volcano, a 40-year-old model of the USS Enterprise (one of the starships from the TV show Star Trek), an Alka-Seltzer powered boat and a cardboard cutout of Thor.

The volcano, USS Enterprise and Alka-Seltzer boat were tributes to Raun’s father, also a BYU alumnus, who received his degree in chemical engineering.

Here is an infographic of all the different items showcased in the submissions for BYU Engineering’s Rube Goldberg Challenge. Matthew Raun’s submission included the volcano and Carson Moon’s submission featured the trebuchet. (BYU Engineering)

Carson Moon, a mechanical engineering major, received help from his friends Braeden Hintze and Kaden Clements to create an eight-foot-tall trebuchet, which is a type of catapult. They worked three days straight to construct the trebuchet before Christmas.

After the catapult was done, the group worked in the time they had left to create the smaller machines to connect it all. “Then we pieced it all together and took it to the park, filmed it, launched it and had lots of fun,” Moon said.

Kaleb Murdock, a chemical engineering major, chose to focus more on BYU spirit for his Rube Goldberg machine.

“I just got all the shirts, socks, pillows, blankets, bags, hats, buckets, basically everything that I could find with BYU stuff on them and then tried to incorporate as many of those as I could,” Murdock said. With the help of his wife, and 14 tries later, the two had a submission full of BYU paraphernalia and lots of Y’s.

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