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Ferris Rube Goldberg Team Out to Beat Own World Record

pictureBIG RAPIDS – How do you top holding a Guinness World Record? You set a new one. At least that is what the Ferris State University Rube Goldberg team plans to do when they travel to Tokyo, Japan, Jan. 3, 2010.

Ferris professor and Rube Goldberg team advisor Thomas Hollen, along with students Mike Dunakin of Grand Rapids, Kyle Hebner of Oscoda and Bryan Williams of Lupton, will spend two weeks in Tokyo trying to break their own world record of completing a task in the most steps possible through a Rube Goldberg machine.

The team set the Guinness World Record in 2007 with their “Toy Factory” creation, in which the students built a contraption that squeezed the juice of an orange in 229 steps. That same year, the students also walked away national champions in the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Competition.

The competition is named after Reuben Garret L. Goldberg, co-founder and president of the American National Cartoonist Society. One of the most famous cartoonists in history, Goldberg earned lasting fame for his Rube Goldberg machines – machines that perform simple tasks in exceedingly complex ways.

In Japan, Ferris’ Rube Goldberg team will be put to the test: create a bigger and better “Toy Factory” that can squeeze the juice of an orange in even more steps. The feat will be showcased on the Japanese television show Spring in Trivia Feb. 27, 2010.

“It is going to take some work, but it is nice to have an opportunity to try and beat our old record,” Dunakin said.

That’s precisely what Japanese television production company Collaboration, Inc. thought.

“Collaboration, Inc. felt who better than the current world record holders to compete and beat the Guinness World Record for most steps in a Rube Goldberg machine,” Hollen added.

The team will be filmed while they build “Toy Factory 2” and attempt to beat their own record of 229 steps. A representative from Guinness World Records will be on hand to verify the steps and determine whether or not a new world record is set.

“This is an honor and a testament to our student’s capabilities to be recognized internationally,” said Thomas Oldfield, dean of Ferris’ College of Engineering Technology. “The effort of Collaboration, Inc. to make this happen is one more experience that the Rube Goldberg Machine Competition has brought to our students.”

Ferris has been competing at the national level in the Rube Goldberg Machine Competition for six years. During that time, the team has won a national championship, placed second twice and placed third during the 2009 competition.

Upon their return from Japan, the students will have one month to put the finishing touches on the machine they plan to compete with on Feb. 27 during the regional 2010 Rube Goldberg Machine Competition. This year’s task: squirt hand sanitizer onto a hand. The winner of the regional competition will advance on to the national competition, set for March 27, 2010, at Purdue University.