The Rube Goldberg Project: Rube’d and Reloaded

Rube Goldberg Machine re-construction

At 3101 Market St., in a back room seldom found in the labyrinth that is the second floor, the pieces of a great machine lie dormant, just waiting to be implemented again to finally break the Guinness World Record for largest working Rube Goldberg Machine. After the initial trial and shortcomings of this project almost a month ago, the machine was taken here to be rebuilt, revamped, and revised. Through months of hard work and several attempts to make the Rube Goldberg Machine flow as smoothly as possible, this project is no longer just a project. It has become a testament to the dedication of the faculty to the students and the perseverance of the students themselves. In two weeks time, the Rube Goldberg Machine will be put together again for a shot at redemption.

The Reign of the Rube Goldberg Machine

Rube Goldberg Team

On Friday, April 25, , the Rube Goldberg Machine was the opening ceremony for the Philadelphia Science Festival. John Dinardo, Drexel’s Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, greeted everyone with a warm welcome, and discussed the enthusiasm being involved with the students and the Science Festival. Dennis Wint, President and CEO of The Franklin Institute, gave a brief overview of the 2014 Science Festival. Justin Land, Public Affairs Manager at Dow Chemical, talked about the importance in supporting science, and then introduced Adam Fontecchio, the College of Engineering’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Fontecchio discussed the countless hours that the students and teaching assistants dedicated to this project, and their process through which they overcame obstacles and their own differences.

Dennis Wint Pressing Button


Wint then stood over the big blue button that would start the machine. With a firm press of his hand, the chain reaction started. There were dominoes falling, water rushing, and crossbows firing. Although the machine itself did not successfully work all the way, the audience was able to see the machine achieve its destination through a little human assistance in keeping the process going. At the end of it all, a lever was released, a rope was pulled, and a 5-foot banner of the Philadelphia Science Festival logo was raised for all to see. Although the world record for the largest Rube Goldberg machine was not achieved today, these students portrayed the value of teamwork, and how fun science and experimentation can be.

Full Rube Goldberg


Don’t give up hope, though! The students will be moving the machine to 3101 Market Street for repairs. They will continue to try and break the Guinness Book of World Records until the end of the term.

A big “Thank You” goes out to all the sponsors, those who attended the event, witnessed it through the video feed, and Drexel University for making this all possible!

You can watch the event again here

Watch the Rube Goldberg Online!

Only three more days till the Philadelphia Science Festival kickoff – the Rube Goldberg by Drexel University’s freshmen, which you can watch online here. The webcast will be made live 10 minutes before the event.

In the meantime, while things are coming together as a whole, check out the photos sneak peaks: a crossbow, a dumbbell, a funnel, a fake falcon, a hammerhead shark model, stacks of wood and a bunch of other stuffs, just to name a few. See what’s in store for you!

SAVE THE DATE – Friday, April 25, 2014 at 11:00 AM for the event and a potential new Guinness World Record!







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Get ExCITed

Group10There is just one week left before Drexel Engineering’s team of dedicated students unveil their record breaking Rube Goldberg Machine at the Philadelphia Science Festival.

On Thursday, April 17, teaching fellow Chris Lester presented an overview of the class’s recent progress at T3 at Drexel’s ExCITe Center, a University space focused on multidisciplinary innovation and collaboration sitting at the corner of 34th and Market. Chris’s reports are overall positive; it seems that the group is strongly positioned to break the record, and the goal of 400 modules is still within reach.

He also relayed that as things come down to the wire, unconventional measures are being taken. Students are regularly borrowing Dr. Fontecchio’s car for supply runs, and the materials themselves are only getting more ridiculous. Now working with 500 dominos and perhaps enough Legos to build a life size statue of Reuben Garrett Lucius “Rube” Goldberg himself, this sounds like the most exciting freshman engineering course anyone has ever taken.

Of course, as an academic endeavour, this project is not all fun and games; lessons are at work as well. The group is learning that not everything projected can be put into practice, and computer generated models can only predict so much what is possible under variable time and resource constraints. Construction is well under way, but last minute changes are still being made to the design to adapt to situational problems. However, we should not despair; if Dr. Fontecchio trusts his students enough to lend them his car, we should believe in them too.

The team has entered the ninth inning, the third period; the two-minute warning. Sports analogies aside, of all the lessons learned over the course of this project, perhaps none is more poignant than the cruel indifference of deadlines, and now in the eleventh hour there can be no reprieve for these young and mad scientists.

Well, except maybe Easter.

The students will kick off the Philadelphia Science Festival with their finished Rube Goldberg machine in the Drexel Armory at 11:30 AM on April 25.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Group working on Rube Goldberg Machine

With the Philadelphia Science Festival fast approaching, and the unveiling of the word record breaking Rube Goldberg machine along with it, it’s now crunch time for the students building this  phenomenon of engineering’s design. Utilizing innovation and a myriad of objects and materials, these first year students are set on creating a machine that will literally be one for the record books.

As you read this, engineering students are working diligently with their teams to craft a contraption that will cause a fluid chain reaction from start to finish. All of the teams working on this project are on schedule and are now constructing their pieces for the Rube Goldberg machine. Each group is incorporating unique items  that play an essential role in their pieces, such as various toys, LED lights, light and motion sensors, gardening and construction equipment, a skull, and much, much more.

There will be twists and turns, thrills and chills, and even a dragon to blow peoples’ minds away with a blast of fire. And at the end of all of this, the machine will complete a simple, household activity. Expect to see more updates on the construction of this machine as we draw closer to its completion.

Be sure to watch these students reveal their finished Rube Goldberg machine at the beginning of the Philadelphia Science Festival, running from April 25-May 3!

Being a Part of Something Grand

Philadelphia Science Festival 2014

Photo credit:

Drexel Dragons are not only about to break the Guinness World’s Record for Rube Goldberg Machine with the most energy transfers, but also becoming a part of one of Philadelphia’s biggest scientific events.

The Philadelphia Science Festival is an annual event in the city of brotherly love that celebrates all aspects of science, from engineering, chemistry, physics, biology to astronomy. This ten-day festival consists of lectures, debates, hands-on activities, special exhibitions and a variety of informal science education experience for all ages. The inaugural Philadelphia Science Festival in 2011 successfully engaged 120,000 participants together with more than 100 partnering organizations.

As a component of this community-wide occasion, the Rube Goldberg project at Drexel’s College of Engineering links together core collaborators including museums, universities, natural science centers and officials within the Philadelphia area. Some of this year’s core partners are: The Free Library of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, The City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Zoo, etc. Each of the 14 teams working on the Rube Goldberg project at Drexel will be assigned with one or more collaborators, and will work closely with them throughout the process. This is promisingly a monumental opportunity for Drexel’s College of Engineering, Philadelphians and institutions in the area to establish bonds between each other.

Secret Origins



What do you get when you combine:

A miniature Liberty Bell,
Toy SEPTA regional rail cars,
An oscilloscope,
Model paratroopers,
PVC pipe,
Model rocket engines,
Dowel rods, and

A Guinness World Record.




Well, in the making at least. Beholding the raw materials of a team of Drexel Engineering freshman’s soon to be historic Rude Goldberg machine, one cannot help but wonder how all of these pieces are going to come together. There is some discussion of a “zoo” module that may begin the 400 part journey. What could this mean? Will a zebra kick down a door, starting a chain reaction of doors falling like dominos from here to Albuquerque? Will this project serve as a secret ploy for a new Air Bud movie? Or is their plot something much more sinister: a worldwide takeover of society via giant spiders?

While all of these seem unlikely, and it is hard to tell what these mad scientists are planning, the end product is sure to be much more magnificent than one could ever imagine. Toiling away in Engineering 103, these student have their sights set on glory; let us be right there with them when they see their vision through.

The Rube Goldberg event will kick off the Philadelphia Science Festival on April 25, 2014.

Planning Process


The Rube Goldberg staff met to discuss the venue and set up of the Rube Goldberg machine. It’s anticipated that the machine will be approximately 26′ by 26′ and no higher than 10′. But these are just estimates at this point! The building of the machine will be started in another location on campus and then transported piece by piece the week before the event to the venue where the students will try to break the world record!

Going for the Record

12953640543_7d9d59368c_zA Drexel University team of freshman engineering students is preparing to break the two-year-old Guinness World Record for the largest Rube Goldberg machine. The Rube Goldberg event will kick off the Philadelphia Science Festival, which will take place on Friday, April 25 – Saturday, May 3, 2014.Presented by The Dow Chemical Company and organized by The Franklin Institute, the Festival packs more than 100 events into nine exciting days at locations across the region, including restaurants, parks, museums and other neighborhood places, showcasing science and technology in everyday locations.

A Rube Goldberg machine is a comical and complex invention that uses complicated engineering to complete a simple task. Perhaps the most common example is the game of Mouse Trap, introduced in 1963 by Ideal in which a series of events beginning with the turn of a crank results in a cage falling to trap a mouse.

The Drexel student team is planning to present a machine that will include more than 400 components, which will break the current record of a 300-step Rube Goldberg machine. Currently the 45 students are divided into 14 teams, each responsible for building a section of the machine with at 30-35 components.

Materials have been ordered and delivered and the building has begun!

The College of Engineering will keep updating information about the students’ progress as they approach the date of the competition.

To read more about Rube Goldberg Machines please click here.