The competition is named after the late cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who specialized in drawing whimsical machines with complex mechanisms to perform simple tasks.
The competition rewards creative inefficiency. The students are given a task to complete -- such as pouring coffee with a machine as complicated as possible.
This year's challenge is to cut or shred five sheets of 20-pound, 8-by-11-inch paper, one at a time.
"Each year a different task is devised. For example, students had to hit a golf ball into a hole," said George W. George, who is the son of Rube Goldberg. "I am always amazed and entertained by the ingenious ways that students use to complete an assigned task. It's a testament to the ingenuity and humor of our society."