A rube goldberg approach to teaching dynamics of machine elements

Marisa K. Orr, Shawn S. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Dynamics of Machine Elements is a junior-level course in mechanical engineering that covers the kinematics (motion) and kinetics (causes of motion) of machine elements such as linkages, cams, and gear trains. This paper describes the results of adding a Rube Goldberg Machine Contest® project to the course to address student concerns over the lack of interactivity in the previous lecture-only format. The goals of the project were to give students experience designing, analyzing and implementing a variety of machine elements in a hands-on manner. On a post-survey, many students reported that the open-ended nature of the project was very challenging yet did not help them learn the content, but it did help them develop other skills, such as manufacturing and design, and helped them learn to work with new people. Peer evaluation scores on contributing to the team's work, keeping the team on track, and expecting quality improved significantly over the term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvances in Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • Design project
  • Kinematics
  • Machine elements
  • Rube goldberg

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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