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Ferris' record-setting Rube Goldberg heads to PopTech Conference

BIG RAPIDS - Freshly-squeezed orange juice, from Ferris State University's national championship-winning and Guinness Book of Records record-setting Rube Goldberg machine, will be available this week in Maine at the PopTech Conference Oct. 17 through 19.

Each October, PopTech brings together hundreds of leaders in the various Arts, Sciences and Education in addition to business, politics and technology in the historic Maine Opera House in Camden. Receiving national acclaim on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and NBC's "The Today Show" the team's presentation is highly anticipated.

"Having learned of the Ferris State Rube Goldberg world-record breaking machine, PopTech felt that the team's achievement demonstrated technical ingenuity and potential for positive impact on the world, and we are proud to have them as part of this year's community of thought leaders," said Heidi Newell, project producer for PopTech. "On a lighter note, we are also looking forward to a custom-made glass of orange juice each morning before the speaker sessions begin."

Learning about PopTech's interest in the machine, as well as learning they set a world record, is icing on the cake for the team, said Tom Sybrandy, a native of Lansing who enters his fifth year as a member of the Rube Goldberg team, which is comprised of students from Ferris' College of Technology.

"For me, it was the perfect capping point to be able to finish by setting a world record," said Sybrandy, the former Rube Goldberg team captain, who has an associate degree from Ferris in Mechanical Design with a concentration in CAD Drafting and Tool Design. "We set our goals to win the national championship and to set the world record and we've been able to accomplish both so it is like the perfect ending for me, as a senior."

Being a member of the Rube Goldberg team has been more than just a fun experience that has taken the team into the national spotlight. Engineering a machine comprised of items ranging from a Slinky, to a jack-in-the-box to dominoes has been an educational experience for Sybrandy, who along with new team captain Mike Dunakin and adviser Thomas Hollen, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering Technology, will be among those traveling to take part in the conference.

"The great thing about this experience is that not only has it been fun, it also has taught us a lot of engineering concepts and how to develop my team dynamic and leadership skills," said Dunakin, a native of Grand Rapids, who is majoring in Industrial Engineering Technology. "This is my second year on the team and it's been great to be a part of this team, to win the national championship and to set the world record."

"This has been a fantastic experience for the team," Hollen said. "It was great to see them set such a high goal, work hard at it and to eventually accomplish what they set out to accomplish. The team has not only been able to have a lot of fun with this, but they also have learned a lot of stuff about engineering along the way. The Guinness record was kind of the icing on the cake for these guys."

The PopTech conference begins on Wednesday and runs through Friday. For more information, visit There will be an online live stream of the event beginning on Thursday at