MENOMONIE — Frankenstein was a thing of beauty Tuesday during the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
New Auburn High School won the annual engineering competition with a 46-step machine called Frankenbutts, featuring a Frankenstein character and theme. During three competition runs, the machine performed flawlessly.
New Auburn scored 474 points. Second place went to Bayfield High School with 456 points and third place to Antigo High School with 432 points.
New Auburn advances to the national Rube Goldberg competition Saturday, April 5, at Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee.
Frankenbutts also had performed flawlessly during 30 or 40 precompetition runs in recent days leading up to the competition, said Drew Galetka, team captain, so the team had high hopes.
“It worked perfectly, but it’s definitely nerve-wracking,” Galetka said.
The Rube Goldberg competition challenges students to create a machine that turns a simple procedure into something complicated. Machines must have a minimum of 20 steps and be a standard size. This year’s national challenge is to zip a zipper.
Machines are judged on creativity and functionality. The event is named after an early 20th century engineer and cartoonist whose work spoofed modern machinery.
Frankenbutts, with a Frankenstein lookalike at the center of the machine, has numerous engineering features: pumps, pegs, pins, valves, a vortex tube, a funnel, a gurney wheel and an incline plane. Creative features include an eyeball, rat traps, a hand, a saw and, at the end, a bag of bones that act as a weight to zip the zipper.
Galetka said the team, made up of seniors in the shop class, began working on the machine in early December, including during class hours and weekends. Team members put in a minimum of 500 hours of work, he said.
New Auburn last won the regional at UW-Stout in 2011.
A total of 10 schools competed. New Auburn also won the People’s Choice Award. Plum City won the Most Spirited Award, Loyal the Best Story Award and Unity the Laugh Barometer Award.
The event was hosted by the UW-Stout Technology Education Engineering Collegiate Association. The event coordinators were students Laurence Charlier, of Menomonie; Ben Edelburg, of Rib Lake; Nano Espenses, of Waunakee; Alan Mamerow, of Colgate; Tyler Matthews, of Wisconsin Rapids; and Austin Rayburn, of New Auburn.
The major sponsors included Phillips Medisize and TTM Technologies.