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Tampa Prep’s Davis Shapiro ’26 recently took 3rd Place in the Unreal Engine Rube Goldberg 10 Pin Challenge competition!

A Rube Goldberg machine is a chain-reaction contraption designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way. The objective of this competition was to use 6 simple machines and 12 transfers of motion to ultimately knock over 10 bowing pins.

TP: When did you start working on your machine and how long did it take you to finish?
DS: “I initially started working on my machine around the beginning of November, but a lot of the work was done closer to the deadline (December 4th) due to travel and other events coming up. It’s hard to say exactly how long it took me to finish, but I worked on it for a few hours per day in the days/weeks leading up to the deadline. Since this was a digital contest, it gave me a lot of flexibility on when and where I could work on my submission.”

TP: How did you come up with the ideas of what machines and transfers of motion to use?
DS: “In the rulebook for the competition, it outlined exactly which machines we could use; specifically, it stated that we needed to use all six “simple machines” which included a wedge, screw, lever, pulley, inclined plane, and a wheel and axle, which took the form of things like ramps, turntables, etc. I honestly decided which machines to use in what places as I went, making sure to keep the other rules of the competition in mind. The program we used is called “Unreal Engine” which is a piece of software that lets you create and run photorealistic games and simulations in real-time.”
TP: What do you enjoy about this process?
DS: “I enjoyed the flexibility of the competition, since I was able to add my own elements like RC cars and toasters in unique ways to make my submission stand out. I also liked the fact that we were using the same software used by movie studios and game designers since it gives valuable experience for future careers.”
Watch the video here.  Congratulations to Davis on this impressive achievement!