March 5, 1999

Josh Solomon and David Mannino, 12th graders at Mepham High School, took 3rd place in the 12th annual Rube Goldberg Competition sponsored by the Engineers Joint Committee of Long Island,which includes professional engineers and members of the Long Island Physics Association. There were forty entries in this year's competition, which was hosted by Polytechnic University in Farmingdale.


Mepham High School was represented at the Annual Long Island Rube Goldberg Contest by the demonstration of four machines, three by teams and one by an individual. The contest, named in honor of the famous cartoonist designer of zany machines that would use a complicated process to accomplish a simple task, tests the imaginations and construction capabilities of Long Island high school students. Mr. Robert Chalmers was advisor to the Mepham students, and the contest, which took place at the Polytechnic University campus in Farmingdale, was sponsored by the Engineers Joint Committee of Long Island.

The goal of the contest was to design a machine that would perform a relatively useless task, have it run for exactly sixty seconds, and demonstrate several changes of energy state (e.g. from mechanical to chemical to electrical energy forms.) To create the machine, in itself, was an accomplishment, and there was no dishonor in having it fail its task. With a limited time for setting up the machines, testing, and running them, the vast majority of machines did not work properly.

Although the contestants could choose to create almost any sort of machine they were judged by:

  • 1. The number of successful completions of their objective, out of three tries.
  • 2. The closest the machine ran to 60 seconds for completion (more or less run-time reduced the score.
  • 3. The number of energy exchanges that took place.

In the individual category Richard Koenig designed his machine, and ran it successfully three times in 48, 55, and 57 seconds.

Josh Solomon and David Mannino designed a machine that ran successfully one out of three tries.

Julie Hill, Rayna Saper, and Mike Vaughn designed a machine that did not complete its task out of two tries.

Lori Kessler, Eric Seltzer and Brett Pasquarelli designed a machine that did not complete its task in three tries.

The above cartoon, showing a machine that helps a numbskull become an engineer, was drawn for Purdue students by Rube Goldberg in the early '50s. According to Goldberg: Seal balances ball and applauds self, causing string to start one-man band. Co-ed, hearing music, does Charleston, kicking over oil lamp and burning string, dropping basketball on switch, which starts atomic machine, lifting numbskull so he can crib answers and become a successful engineer. (Rube Goldberg is a trademark of Rube Goldberg Inc.)

For more information on Rube Goldberg you might use any search engine and search for "Rube Goldberg" being sure to use the quotation marks.