Veeblefetzer Challenge - DatelineCarolina

USC Veeblefetzer Challenge: It's Complicated

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Taylor Bland, Theta Tau's Philanthropy Chair, put on the event. Taylor Bland, Theta Tau's Philanthropy Chair, put on the event.
Many students used dominoes as part of their machines. Many students used dominoes as part of their machines.
Ken Yamashiro competed with the Center for Advanced Technical Studies Ken Yamashiro competed with the Center for Advanced Technical Studies

By: Mattie Crow

University of South Carolina and high school engineering students competed to do a simple task, get a ball into a basket. It sounds easy, but they had to figure out how to do it in the most complicated way possible. It's a Veeblefetzer Challenge.

Veeblefetzer is a term for an overly complicated solution to a small problem. The engineers had to make a veeblefetzer machine, also called a Rube Goldberg device. Similar to the board game mouse trap, three high school teams and two college teams designed and built machines that took a minimum of twenty steps to complete the simple task.

The professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau Zeta Delta hosted the challenge and philanthropy chair Taylor Bland hopes to encourage young engineers.

"I hope this is a successful way to bring together high school students and college students so they can understand that it's not what people make it seem to be a college engineer, you can have fun, you can have a lot of friends and you can do all your school work," Bland said.

Everyone was having fun on Saturday, constructing their machines using everything from paintball guns and dominoes to mouse traps.

Again and again the teams had to test their contraptions, adjust and then test them again to try to get their complex machines to finish the job.

Ken Yamashiro, a student competing with the Center for Advanced Technical Studies, didn't realize the amount of work it would take to create the machine.

"We thought such a simple machine we could just spontaneously make it, but it actually is the opposite way around," Yamashiro said.

Students planned for weeks or months yet none of the machines ran perfectly, proving just how difficult the challenge was.

Theta Tau hopes the Veeblefetzer Challenge will become an annual event that will continue to bring in teams of high school students.

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