STEM Inventors

Drawing from Peter Cooper’s legacy of invention, high school students are immersed in a rigorous, hands-on engineering project that broadens their understanding of engineering and design concepts through application.  Lectures and laboratory demonstrations prepare the students to perform their team-based activities, centered on designing and building a "Rube Goldberg" machine in order to learn how basic electromechanical devices operate.  The students will be tasked to invent their own designs, prototype them with 3D printers, laser-cutters, and computer-controlled machining tools.

Teamwork, technical communication, and project management are professional skills that are developed in the learn-by-doing studio approach taken in this course.  Among the fundamental experiments covered in the syllabus are: DC motors, microcontrollers, internal combustion engines, pumps, structures, fans, pumps, automotive systems, refrigeration units, and pressure vessels.

The resulting project is a kinetic sculpture that is as much a work of art as it is a well-engineered machine.  Students practice resourcefulness – the materials that they use to build their machines must be recycled.  The sculpture will be entered in a local Rube Goldberg competition at the high school level. 

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.