Rube Goldberg Team Returns from Tokyo

FSU team recently attempted to break the World Record for steps in a Rube Goldberg machine

Quality Mechanics: Bryan WIlliams., Kyle Hebner, and Michael Dunakin journeyed to Japan earlier this month to attempt to beat a world record for number of steps on a Rube Goldberg machine. Photo Courtesy of Kyle Hebner

Three Ferris students recently had a one of a kind opportunity to build a Rube Goldberg machine in Tokyo, Japan.

From Jan. 3 to 16, team members Kyle Hebner, Michael Dunakin and Bryan Williams, along with professor Thomas Hollen, experienced the culture and daily life of Japan. The team was invited to attempt to break the world record for steps in a Rube Goldberg machine, of which the Ferris team from 2007 held the previous record with 229 official steps.

The task with this machine was to take a photograph. There was some dispute, however, on whether or not the record was broken.

“The short answer is, yes, we broke the record.  The long answer is, the Guinness representative stepped out of the room when the machine ran, and she wouldn’t accept the video we took as proof enough,” said Hebner. “The machine failed to run after that.  In total, this machine had about 285 steps, 56 more then the 2007 machine.”

The team took the first seven or eight days of the trip to work on the machine, and Hebner described it as “the most massive undertaking any of us have been a part of.” Besides working on the machine, the Ferris students also made time to sight see.

“Aside from the food, the best part about Japanese culture is how polite everyone is.  It’s such a huge part of Japanese culture to be respectful and courteous that I found myself wondering why it’s so hard for everyone else to get along,” said Hebner.

Hebner also talked about an interesting café that they visited where the servers dressed like maids and had the customers play a game of role playing throughout the meal.

“It was a lot of fun.  They even had a voice-over station where you could dub a short Anime,” said Hebner.

Japan is no stranger to the Rube Goldberg machine. While Hebner was not sure if they held competitions, he said there is a television company who is well-known for their Rube Goldberg transitions between commercials.

The team updated the blog of the College of Engineering Technology throughout the trip. They wrote a short post letting everyone know they arrived safely, and Hebner authored a few posts about his thoughts on the trip and the culture he was experiencing. To read these posts, visit

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to work in Tokyo with some of the most unique people I’ve ever met,” said Hebner. ν