Rube Goldberg: An engineer's engineer

Berkeley Engineering 150Rube GoldbergIs simplicity overrated? Rube Goldberg, who earned his engineering degree in 1904 from the College of Mining, gained fame for cartoons that depicted overly complicated devices to complete simple tasks. Today, engineering students across the country compete every year in Rube Goldberg machine-building competitions. He even has the distinction of being the only person whose name is listed as an adjective in the Merriam Webster Dictionary: “Accomplishing by complex means what seemingly could be done simply.”

Goldberg’s drawings earned him numerous awards, but it was the decidedly sober subject of the atom bomb that earned him the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for editorial cartooning. In the cartoon, titled Peace Today, he depicted a bomb teetering off a cliff, ready to fall towards world destruction. A collection of his works is available in the best-selling The Art of Rube Goldberg.

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