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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Rube Goldberg machine to be built in the Collis Center

By 2020, two design and engineering students hope to have made campus a little happier. Julia Huebner ’20 and Sophie Frey ’20 formed the Collis Wall Project earlier this term to build a piece of public art in the form of a Rube Goldberg machine — a device that performs a simple task through a chain reaction —in the Collis Center by June of 2020. According to Huebner, they have enlisted four other student designers to help with the project.

Collis Governing Board granted $2,040 for the completion of this project. Of that, $1,200 will be used for materials, $500 will be used as a stipend for the Thayer School Design Fellow who will be consulting for two years, and the rest will go toward miscellaneous costs that may arise, according to a budget for the project provided by Huebner.

Huebner said she developed the idea to create a Rube Goldberg machine after taking College Course 18, "Impact Design," during spring 2017, which piqued her interest in using public spaces to bolster happiness. She said she reached out to Collis Center deputy director Joseph Castelot to see if there was anything that could be done to “inspire delight” in the popular social space.

“I took a series of classes here in the human-centered design minor at Thayer that have really propelled me to think of public space,” she said. “For a while, I stared at one of the walls in [the Collis Center] eating area and thought that the space was really underutilized and wondered, ‘What if there was something cool there?’”

After getting approval from Collis Governing Board, the project team began meeting every Monday this term to organize logistics and form a concept for the Rube Goldberg machine. Frey, an engineering student, said she will be taking the lead on the actual building and designing the machine in the winter.

“[Huebner] and I met on our [Language Study Abroad] to Barcelona, which is a pretty funny place to think up a tech project, and when she posed the idea to me I was really excited,” she said. “My goal next term is to spend time in the [Thayer School Machine Shop] and lab in Thayer with some of the other engineers.”

Jeanne Annpark ’21, a project team member, said she decided to get involved because she wanted to be a part of a project that created interactive art. She has been working closely with other members of the team this term to create a preliminary design, which she said may take on a less traditional form.

“[Huebner] reached out to me because of my interest in design and art,” she said. “We are in the beginning stages of designing parts of the project, but it’s been really great to practice my passions this terms. After attending our weekly brainstorms, I don’t know how close it is going to look to a traditional Rube Goldberg, but I am excited for it.”

Huebner is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.