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Spotlight of the Week

Jello iMac Contest

By Aaron D. Mihalik

While many people traveled to far-off places over spring break, a number of students remained on campus -- a choice which still offered plenty of opportunities to relax and unwind. One such event was the JELL-O iMac contest that took place on Friday in Lobby 7.

As contestants, wielding sharp knives and hot spoons, put the finishing touches on their Jello creations, throngs of passersby's and several news cameras from local area stations observed the competition. Although there were 15 entries, only eight jello iMacs appeared in time for the competition. Entries ranged from elaborately crafted full-scale iMacs and fruit-filled keyboards to a photo of Linus Torvald pasted on a box of watermelon-flavored jello.

The winning entry was submitted by Melissa D. Dullea ’00 and Molly A. Maxwell ’99. Their jello iMac required 275 packets of gelatin, six gallons of water, two keyboards and 50 hours of work over the break. Their entry, which included such details as a jelly sharks screensaver, won them an Apple iMac G3/266.

Dullea entered the contest because she was “not doing anything else over spring break.” She admitted that during the break, she “got to know gelatin better than [I] ever wanted to.”

Tau Epsilon Phi’s entry, “Jello Soul,” tied for second place. A number of people passing by continually touched this one to examine its structure and “jiggliness.” The entry was made with blue food coloring and Knox unflavored gelatin, plus about 30 boxes of sparkling grape jello. Rhett Creighton ’02 noted that to construct the jello iMac, they “broke someone else’s computer” and made a mold out of it. After the contest, the team dropped their jello iMac from the third floor of Lobby 7.

Another notable entry was the “open-source jello iMac,” made by Andrew G. Brooks G, who was representing VooDoo magazine.

Brooks had an explanation for his creation. “Apple has just decided to somewhat embrace the open-source model with MacOS X,” he said. The picture was “keeping with their ‘Think Different’ campaign involving pictures of various pioneering thinkers... a picture of Linus celebrating a Linux kernel build with a beer was perfect.” The watermelon jello was used because it was the “strangest flavor at LaVerde’s.”

The contest was thought up of by Wesley Thomas, an Information Systems consultant. Thomas was very pleased with the entries. “This is excellent,” he said, “Great creativity, engineering... it’s everything about MIT.”

The contest was intentionally held during spring break. Thomas said that it would give students “something to do, relax, [with] no pressure.”

The judging was based on five categories: creativity, realism, amount of jello used compared to non-jello components, documentation, and scale. There were three judges present: Marshall J. Vale and William F. Hogue from Information Systems and Donna Moughty from Apple.

Chris Mayo, a representative from Apple, applauded students for their “amazingly creative procedures [that] were used to create these iMacs.” Mayo also noted that it was “interesting that some chose realism and others creativity.”