What is Veeblefetzer Challenge?

Veeblefetzer (/Vee’b*l-fetz’*er/) is a synonym for any obscure or complicated object or mechanism. The term is a combination from the German verb weben, to weave, and fetzen, meaning mind-blowing. The idea for this was developed from the creative cartoons of William Heath Robinson and Pulizer Prize winning Ruben Lucious Goldberg. In the 1900s, these artists created cartoons of simple tasks that were made into overly complicated machines with the use of every-day items. This sparked the interest of students all over the world to create these types of machines, giving us current day Rube Goldberg Competitions.

Why Participate?

The goal of facilitating this competition is to encourage students to critically think and problem solve in a competitive and fun engineering environment. Participating fives students, in high school and college alike, the chance to explore a more humorous and light-hearted side of engineering through the design and execution of these machines. In addition, participating also encourage teamwork, giving all members involved a chance to interact with fellow engineers to complete a mutual goal.

Who Can Participate?

Middle school, High school, and college teams in groups of a minimum of 2 members. Mentors are also welcome!

A little about the history

In 1949, at the peak of the Goldberg era, the two engineering fraternities at Purdue University, Phi Chapter of Theta Tau Fraternity and Triangle Fraternity, developed a Rube Goldberg Machine Contest that was held as part of the Engineer’s Ball. The contest died out with the Engineer’s Ball in 1955. In 1983, some members of the Phi Chapter of Theta Tau Fraternity found the original traveling trophy from Purdue’s first RGMC. After diligently searching out information on the contest, they resurrected the event. All the attention finally paid off in 1988 when the first National Rube Goldberg Machine Contest was launched.

Where and when is this awesome contest?

The date is April 9th, 2016 and it will be held in Swearingen Engineering Center at University of South Carolina.

Veeblefetzer Challenge Machine Specifications

Goal:    Open an umbrella!

Physical Size: Max 6’x6’x6′

Minimum number of steps: 20

Maximum number of steps: Unlimited

Single Run Time: 2 mins minimum/4 mins max

Air compressor hoses running to machine: 1

AC/DC power cords running to the machine: 1

Air compressor hoses and power cords used within boundaries: Unlimited

Corporate Logos: Not Allowed

Themes: Are encouraged


We are looking for corporate sponsors to help us make our inaugural Veeblefetzer Challenge a success. Sponsors whom are willing to help fund or work with any of the teams that enter the competition at the University of South Carolina are welcome.

If you are an employer seeking such an opportunity, please contact and we will respond to you as soon as possible.