LeTourneau University students were faced with doing it the hard way Thursday.
Their annual Rube Goldberg competition is all about making a simple task like turning on a light switch as difficult as possible using multiple steps to achieve the final goal, and engineering students are pretty adept at making something simple difficult.
LeTourneau students had a whole bunch of crazy ideas to make things really complicated and named their projects. Preston Modesto was one of the team members tweaking Electronic Propaganda. They decided on this route.
"You know if we run a ball through a maze and we change the maze up as it runs through and then use that to light up a sign, that'd be pretty darn cool," Modesto said.
Of course, to light a sign most people ...
"Just flip a switch, but instead we have some marbles through a cardboard maze constantly changing," Modesto revealed.
Mathew Stevenson was a member of the Longview Goldberg Nutcrackers. He and his team had a tough nut to crack using toys, including an old electric race track.
"This track is over 20 years old and the company's out of business. You don't see electric race car tracks often anymore," Stevenson said.
"That looks like one I used to have," I observed.
"Yes," he agreed.
"In fact, it's probably got my name scratched on the bottom," I offered.
"Could be," Stevenson smiled.
After marbles roll and cars race ...
"We go into a slightly more complex sequence of dropping a nut onto a lower platform, placing it in the exact position, and then dropping a hammer on it to crack it," Stevenson explained.
Alien Hunter was the third entry, but the hunters must have been confident since they weren't there.
Suddenly it was time to make a grade. The Goldberg Nutcrackers were first up and had a plethora of technical difficulty, so Mathew took a shortcut to the last step and cracked that nut with a weight.
Electronic Propaganda made it mostly work and lit up the sign.
The Alien Hunters had three complex devices interlinked with lasers, and it achieved its goal of lighting a torch; - twice without fail. Judges called it the winner.
"The Alien Hunter," said Electrical Engineering Professor Oscar Ortiz.
Maybe mysterious is a good thing.
The competition is named after Rube Goldberg who was an early twentieth-century cartoonist known for his complicated drawings. The Pulitzer Prize winner started out as an engineer.