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Published: Sunday, 4/13/2003

UT's `can-do' device places 2nd in contest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -Four University of Toledo students turned yesterday's annual Rube Goldberg competition here into a scene of “Candemonium.”

The competition, held at Purdue University, required teams to build machines that would crush and place a can into a recycling bin using dozens of zany mechanisms.

The UT students finished second among six competing teams with their 36-step machine. All the machine's mechanisms had a theme containing the word “can.”

For example, a falling cantaloupe triggered a lever to select a can and the trunk of an elephant crushed it.

Jason Sidders, team captain, said the Candemonium machine was a crowd-pleaser.

“I was really gunning for first place this year,” he said. “We had a couple of freak accidents that required us to touch the machine while it was running, and that cost us a few points that made the difference between first and second.”

Mr. Sidders said his favorite part of his team's machine was the “Cansas” mechanism, which recalled a scene from the Wizard of Oz. A spiraling house fell on a wicked witch and crushed her to trigger the next step.

A team from Purdue won the contest, and University of Texas students placed third. For their second place finish, the University of Toledo American Society of Mechanical Engineers team received a trophy and $150.

UT team members were Mr. Sidders, Tricia Gallant, Paul Heil, and Lori Schmetzer.

The Rube Goldberg contest is named for the cartoonist who satirized the industrial age with illustrations of complex devices that accomplished mundane chores.

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