Rube Goldberg

"Rube Goldberg, a comically involved, complicated invention, laboriously contrived to perform a simple operation" - Webster's new world dictionary

Life is as simple as you make it... but does one truly appreciate simplicity all the time? For those of us, who are tired of straightforward algorithms - put on your thinking hats, and come up with all the bizarre and uncanny ideas you can think of to accomplish the most common tasks.

For all day-dreamers and dramatists alike, for whom the world is too mundane - unleash yourselves in The Rube Goldberg Challenge at Techkriti '10, where the sole objective is to find the craziest, most complicated, convoluted, and "coolest" way to complete a given task.

Got you hooked yet?

Problem Statement

Fill a glass of water.


  • The machine must complete the task as described in the challenge.
  • The machine must be no larger than 6mx6mx6m.
  • The machine must have a minimum of fifteen (15) steps. There is no maximum number of steps.
  • The machine must not imply profane, indecent or lewd expressions.
  • Any loose or flying objects must remain within the set boundaries of the machine.
  • You may use electricity however you may use only one power cord outside the specified area.
  • No flames may be used on the machine.
  • No hazardous materials or explosives can be used on the machine.
  • Library books are not allowed. Instead, you may use bricks.
  • Parallel steps won't be counted as steps.
  • If any team is not found not following any of the rules, serious action would be taken even upto disqualification from the event.
  • You would get the glass to be filled before the start of event from us.

Time Guidelines

  • The machine must take no more than five (5) minutes per run.
  • The machine is allowed two resets of maximum fifteen (15) minutes.
  • No materials must be found in TV room before start of the event i.e. 2 pm on 18th.
  • The room would be locked on 20th at 6pm. No extra time should be asked.
  • You are required to submit a flowchart in hard copy in F321/Hall 1 by 10 pm on 17th.
  • Judging would take place on 20th between 6 pm to 9 pm.

View Sample Flowchart

Judging Criterion

  • Innovation.
  • Complexity applied in connecting movements.
  • Continuity without any human intervention (However, if it is inevitable in order to complete the run, you will be allowed to do so at cost of marks deducted).
  • This machine can contain moving electronics gadgets, but the technical manipulations applied by the participants for mechanical motion will carry the weightage.
Points break-up
  1. General Impressions
    10 points
    • Explanation/Description
      10 points
  2. Run Related
    70 points
    • Task Completed
      10 points
    • Visibility
      10 points
    • Complexity applied in connecting movements
      50 points
  3. Aesthetics and compactness
    20 points
  4. Penalties
    • Run Length (time > 5 mins)
      -10 points/min
    • Human Intervention
      -10 points each
    • Objects leaving machine
      -5 points each
    • Water spilling out of glass
      -5 points


  1. Harsh      9956772053
  2. Tusheet    9956817156

Frequently Asked Questions

  1.  I have no idea about Rube Goldberg. Can't you tell me what exactly it is?
     Well, yeah. Rube Goldberg Machine is a series of complicated motions / processes which in the end conducts some specified task. For example, you can take this sequence----If Tom throws the golf ball upwards--- ball hits the ceiling fan--- gets deflected and falls on a book stack--- books starts falling on the table--- and finally hit the keyboard on the computer. Here, if Tom did all these stuff knowingly, he just made a Rube Goldberg Machine. Simple.. isn't it?
  2. How do you define a step?
    A step will be counted as any action or a series of similar action which are a part of your Rube Goldberg Mechanism. Do not count similar steps as many-For example-In a Dominoes-different objects will initiate the fall of each other but it will be counted as one step only. It is expected that each step will initiate the next step (until it is not a termination of some branch steps).
  3. What type of steps will fetch more marks?
     You should expect more marks if you have applied some complex yet accurate step. Your innovation will certainly increase your points. Just running some electronic toy may do your job, but it is less likely to fetch marks.
  4. Is human intervention allowed?
    Yes we may allow maximum 2 human interventions in case we see that the mechanism is not able to complete its task. But one should not make human intervention as a part of his mechanism because in such cases we would not allow it. Human intervention will also lead to negative marking.
  5. Are we expected to make all the parts at the time of competition itself?
    No - you are allowed to make sub parts at your respective places and bring them,to do the assembling.
  6. What's the prize?
    The winner of this zonal event will be selected for the finals in Techkriti '10 at IIT Kanpur.