P13731: Educational Rube Goldberg

Planning & Execution I

Table of Contents

Project Summary

Project Name: Educational Rube Goldberg Machine

Project Number: P13731

Project Time Span: MSD I / MSD II: 2012-2 / 2012-3

Mission Statement: The purpose of the MSD Rube Goldberg Machine is to display a semi-permanent mechanical assembly that will demonstrate fundamentals of engineering and the capabilities of Multidisciplinary Senior Design. The machine will educate viewers on the complexity of engineering systems and will perform a simple task at the end that will attract users to the machine. The goal is to raise awareness about the capabilities of Multidisciplinary Senior Design.

Project Description:

This Rube Goldberg machine is intended to be a high visibility, semi-permanent installation that can be displayed and run repeatedly,automatically resetting for the next user. The machine will contain sub-assemblies that demonstrate the engineering principles students have been educated in during their time here at RIT. The sub-assemblies will cover the engineering science courses taken in the Mechanical, Electrical, Computer, and Industrial Systems Engineering departments. It will be by nature a mechanically heavy project, but other disciplines will be necessary for completion, and will add a tremendous amount of value to the team.The display will be accompanied by detailed descriptions of the various systems involved in the Rube Goldberg Machine. The machine will naturally attract people to it, and while they are viewing it they will be educated about engineering. Many of the systems in the machine may end up looking very simple, but with the proper supplemental material, viewers will be able to understand how intricate the processes actually are. Engineering calculations made in the design of the machine are an example of documentation that would enhance a viewers understanding of the internal processes, similar to science museum exhibits. The interface between subsystems will be well defined. This will allow future Senior Design teams to add on to this machine, so this may be a continuously growing project. Younger students may be inspired by this display and want to propose their own additions as their future Senior Design project.


A stakeholder is a person or group that takes interest in a particular project or cause. This person or group is also directly affected by the actions taken by the organization in charge of the project or cause. Our project has multiple stakeholders, below is a list of our prospective stakeholders with a brief description of their stake in our project:

Library Staff - The library staff at R.I.T. is considered to be one of our biggest stakeholders as the library is currently the proposed location for our completed Rube Goldberg Machine. This location was chosen due to the high traffic flow, therefore providing our project with the highest visibility possible.

Harvey Palmer - Harvey Palmer is also among the bigger stakeholders for our Rube Goldberg Machine, as he is the Dean of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering. Our finished product will directly reflect with the capability and educational expertise KGCOE has to offer.

Mark Smith - Mark Smith is a key stakeholder in our project as he is our customer. Being the customer, he has laid out his needs and is basically leaving it in our hands to provide the best possible product, in this case an Educational Rube Goldberg Machine.

Imagine RIT Organizers - Organizers for ImagineRIT can even be viewed as possible stakeholders for our project. Seeing as ImagineRIT is the stage to display the best of what RIT has to offer, organizers will be looking for us to provide an intriguing and unique display.

2nd or 3rd Year Engineering Students - As future MSD candidates, 2nd and 3rd year engineering students are a viable stakeholder in our project. Not only should our project attract their attention but also encourage them to begin thinking about MSD sooner than in their 5th year. For this reason it is in their best interest that we create a captivating Rube Goldberg Machine.

Project Roles and Descriptions:

Project Manager: James Parks

The role of the Project Manager (PM) is to act as the "conscience" for the team. He/She should create relevant plans of action for the team as well as track progress and help resolve conflicts if they arise. It is important for the PM to communicate efficiently with the team as well as the faculty guide and the customer(s).

Lead Engineer: Kyle Schmitz

The primary responsibility of the Lead Engineer (LE) is to ensure the subsystems, interfaces between the team and the customer, and interfaces between the product / systems to be developed and the environment are properly managed and done properly in their early stages before too much time has been invested into the detailed design.

Team Facilitator: Maddie Burke

The role of the Team Facilitator (TF) is to maintain the communication and personal relationships between the group members. This includes managing conflicts, applying the teams agreed norms and values, running meetings efficiently, and help the team evaluate each team members thoughts equally.

Upper Management Liaison: Dan Spiers

This role has been established in our Senior Design group in order to maintain a steady communication flow with our projects faculty guide. In order to take full advantage of our resources at RIT, we have developed this liaison role in order to obtain knowledge from various sources of faculty to gain a better understanding of project design, scheduling, and management. This team member should be able to communicate effectively through email, meetings, or by phone whenever a question arises or to request general advice on various situations that occur throughout the duration of our project.

Resource Manager: John Rizzo

The role of the Resource Manager (RM) is manage all resources throughout both MSD I and MSD II. This includes reserving conference rooms for meetings, checking availability for computer labs when needed, ordering supplies and materials, tracking order progress, and maintaining materials.

Customer Needs

A list of customer needs have been created by the Project Manager (James Parks) and our customer (Mark Smith). These include all the requirements the Rube Goldberg Machine must fulfill. In order to be approved by our customer, the senior design department, and our guide, the group must meet all these requirements as well as the addition specifications described below.


A list of our specifications has been created based off the 10 customer needs shown above. Additional specifications have been developed which elaborate on the customer needs to set the standards and expectations high. These specifications give guidance and an overall goal the team 'will achieve.

Team Values & Norms

The Team Values and Norms document illustrates our teams policies and a grading rubric to determine how well each group member had been abiding by these policies and expectations.

The 5 categories in which each member is evaluation are:

Project Plans & Schedules

MSD I Schedule

The MSD II project plan can be found here

Meeting Minutes, Notes, & Actions


December 5th 2012

December 7th 2012

December 12th 2012

December 14th 2012

December 16th 2012

Systems Design Review

Detailed Design Review

February 11th 2013

Peer Reviews

Peer Review Spreadsheet

Project Reviews

Our planning throughout the first three week of MSD I have been summarized in a Planning Review Document consisting of a one page summary, problem definition/customer needs, benchmarks, stakeholders, initial specs, team setup, and project plan.

Concept Ideas

The group developed multiple concepts for each subsystem individually and then either selected individual concepts, combined ideas, or created a new concept inspired by our initial concepts. A compilation of photos of these concepts has been put together in the following document: Concept Images.


MSD I MSD II Subsystem Educational Information

Photo Gallery

Systems Design

Detailed Design

Project Review I

Photo Gallery

Planning & Execution II

Build, Test, Document

Project Review II

Final Presentation

Technical Paper


Subsystem 1 - Accepted to RIT

Subsystem 2 - Freshman Year

Subsystem 3 - Sophomore Year

Subsystem 4 - Co op Experience

Subsystem 5 - Junior Year

Subsystem 6 - Senior Year

Subsystem 7 - Graduation