Ferris State team in Japan seeks new Guinness mark


Published: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 9:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 9:07 a.m.

BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — A machine that took 229 steps to squeeze an orange has put Ferris State University in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Now, the Big Rapids school has sent a team of four to Japan to try to beat its own record by designing an even more complex Rube Goldberg machine.

Professor Thomas Hollen is adviser to Ferris State's Rube Goldberg team. He and students Mike Dunakin of Grand Rapids, Kyle Hebner of Oscoda and Bryan Williams of Lupton left Jan. 3 for two weeks in Tokyo.

"This is an honor and a testament to our student's capabilities to be recognized internationally," said engineering Dean Thomas Oldfield.

They're doing so by invitation of the Japanese television production company Collaboration Inc. The mission, according to Ferris State spokeswoman Leah Nixon, is to "create a bigger and better 'Toy Factory' that can squeeze the juice of an orange in even more steps."

The work to create "Toy Factory 2" machine is scheduled for broadcast Feb. 27 on the Japanese television show Spring in Trivia, Nixon said.

"It is going to take some work, but it is nice to have an opportunity to try and beat our old record," Dunakin said in a statement before the trip.

The Ferris State team's record-setting machine also won the annual Rube Goldberg Machine Competition. It's named for Reuben Garret L. Goldberg, co-founder of the American National Cartoonist Society.

"Goldberg earned lasting fame for his Rube Goldberg machines that perform simple tasks in exceedingly complex ways," Nixon wrote on the school's Web site.

The Ferris State team will be busy once it returns from Japan, with preparations for the regional and national Rube Goldberg competition to make a machine to squirt hand sanitizer onto a hand.

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