You know who this guy is? Probably not, he’s Rube Goldberg.
I’m surprised by how few engineers know his work. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist who lived from 1883-1970, he’s famous for drawing cartoons of ridiculous and inconceivably complex machines. His work was important during a time in which the world was becoming increasingly mechanized and automated providing a sort of cultural “steam vent” – a way for people to poke fun at machines and industry. I’d embed his work here, but none of it is public domain, so see for yourself or search Google Images. (Be warned, you can spend hours looking at these cartoons.)
I learned about Rube Goldberg from an Engineering professor who, at the time, said, “Rube Goldberg is the most important thing you’ll learn over the next four years”. Back then, we all thought he was joking, but it turns out that he wasn’t. In fact, I wish more people, especially “build engineers” had some exposure to these cartoons. If they had, they’d take a step back and realize that there has to be a better way.