District Five students win UofSC engineering fraternity competition

Fifteen students from Dutch Fork High School were recently named the winners of the Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity of the University of South Carolina Rube Goldberg Invention Competition.

The contest was developed from the creative cartoons of William Heath Robinson and Pulitzer Prize winning Ruben Lucious Goldberg. Both of these artists from the early 1900s created cartoons of simple tasks that were made into overly complicated machines by using everyday items. Goldberg’s cartoons sparked students’ interest nationwide to replicate and in turn compete to design machines that use the most complex processes to complete the simplest of tasks.

The 2022 Theta Tau Rube Goldberg Invention Competition asked students to create a machine with an end goal to “Crush a can”. The machine had to have a minimum of 15 steps and a run time of at least 2 minutes. Themes were encouraged to be incorporated into the
design as part of the judging criteria, along with creativity and presentation. Dutch Fork High’s Rube Goldberg team chose an “Avengers” theme and each person or pair chose a section of the device and a character.

Engineering teacher and team advisor Robin Amick shared the importance of the competition for her students, “Activities like this one provide real-world experiences that not only bring in STEM skills, but also promote 21st-Century skills. It is so important for the growth of students, and the STEM program, to connect our content to the world outside of our classroom.”

The students worked after school for several days to put together the device, find creative ways to design each section and problem solve.

“This project required hours of hard work outside of school to make it the best it could possibly be. Every member of our team was dedicated, worked hard, and put in tons of effort in order to get this project done in time,” said Dutch Fork High School senior William Wei.

Members of the Dutch Fork High Rube Goldberg team included: Aamina Azhar, Trenton Brooks, Connor Dampier, Robert Faison, Sullivan French, Langston Ginn, Favian Gutierrez, August Horton, AJ Johnson, Jennifer Liu, Emma Meihofer, Olivia Meihofer, Annalise Turner, William Wei, and Jeffrey Zheng. Advisor Patrick Hunter, a member of the Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity, also joined the team to assist with the machine design.

“It was just an amazing feeling to win this competition in my final year at Dutch Fork with my teammates and Mrs. Amick,” said Wei. “Mrs. Amick dedicated countless hours in assisting us, suggesting ideas, and making sure our project flowed correctly. Without her, we would not have been able to accomplish this feat. Even though there were many, many times of extreme frustration, we were able to power through and solve the problem together. It was truly just incredible to see everyone’s hard work on this project come to fruition and win first place.”