An engineering student from Palatine will be on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Wednesday night showing off the award-winning Rube Goldberg machine he and his Purdue University classmates created to zip up a hoodie.
The complicated contraption won first place in the 2014 Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. A Rube Goldberg machine is one that does a very simple task in a needlessly complicated way, like the contraption in the classic board game Mousetrap or the breakfast making machine from the movie "Pee-wee's Big Adventure."
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The contest pits teams of engineers from across the country to see which can design and build the best Rube Goldberg gadget. This year's task was zipping a zipper.
Adam Bahrainwala, speaking to the Daily Herald from Hollywood is the first in competition history to involve a person. Teams have points deducted every time their machine requires human aid, but no team had before considered the possibility of designing their machine to aid a human.
Bahrainwala, a 2010 Fremd High School graduate, said the team he led doesn't yet know who is going to be put in the machine when it makes its national television debut tonight, but they have spent a long time making sure it will work, no matter who is inside.
The six-person team was flown out to California on Sunday, just hours after finishing their last final exam of the semester. Their machine completed its 2,103-mile journey from Purdue University to the El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles Monday, and the team has been working to put it back in running order.
"It's been an amazing experience," said Bahrainwala, a senior at Purdue and president of the Rube Goldberg team. "We're really glad and really honored to have an opportunity like this."
The machine is the fourth that Bahrainwala has had a hand in designing for the competition. Two have set Guinness World Records for "Largest Rube Goldberg Machine."
Bahrainwala said the criteria for largest machine has to do with the number of transfers of energy or individual steps the machine completes. The machine from 2011 set the record with 244 steps, and a year later the team broke their own record by making a machine with 300 steps.
Bahrainwala said because all of the machines have to complete their task within two minutes, their previous creations have been somewhat hard for the audience to follow.
"This year we scaled back, and we only have about 75 or 80 steps," he said. "We tried to do a lot of larger steps that moved kind of slowly and were easier for the audience to see and follow what's going on."
The machines are judged on how well they complete the task, creativity, the number of steps involved and their embrace of the complex inefficiency that exemplifies the Rube Goldberg spirit.
The team put in more than 3,500 hours building the machine.
Bahrainwala said the team decided to go for a cartoony feel with this year's machine. Some of the more whimsical steps involve a falling hammer pounding a target, a big red boxing glove extending on a spring, and the whole thing is kicked off by twisting a quarter into an old-fashioned gumball machine.