ME 270: Rube Goldberg is the theme

12/12/2022 Julia Park

Design for Manufacturability student teams wre challenged to create a complex way to turn on a light, starting with a marble.

Written by Julia Park

Rube Goldberg team of students, Fall 2022
 A team of ME 270 students, from left, Colin McHugh (mechanical engineering), Shivaditya Bose (engineering physics), Jonathan Lasso (mechanical engineering), and Tim Sands (mechanical engineering) demonstrate their Rube Goldberg machine. 

Rube Goldberg was the inspiration for this semester’s Design for Manufacturability (ME 270) undergraduate course. Each team of 3-5 students had to create a complex way to turn on a light, starting with a marble. MechSE's Bruce Flachsbart provided teams with a wooden base, metal brackets, a marble, and a battery powered light.

Each team was provided with a base plate, one side plate, brackets to hold the side plate, a marble, and a battery powered LED light—and their machine should have a theme. Machines had to be less than 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm and include at least 10 “steps” or mechanically different actions (i.e. a marble rolling down one ramp, then rolling down another ramp is only one step). Both rotary and linear motion had to be incorporated and students had to utilize rigid linkages, string, and something elastic.

Teams could use mouse traps and only one other commercial product, but otherwise had to make (manufacture) all other parts they used. Final presentations were made at Lu MEB November 29 and 30.

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This story was published December 12, 2022.