U-M engineering students construct life-size Rubik’s Cube

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Three University of Michigan mechanical engineering students built a giant 1,500-pound Rubik’s Cube. The life-size version of the popular toy is on display on the university’s North Campus.

The idea was first proposed by a group of students on Pi Day (3.14) in 2014. Three years later, the cube is complete on the second floor of the G.G. Brown Building.

“The original team was playing with a Rubik’s Cube trying to think of a senior design project,” said Ryan Kuhn, a mechanical engineering student at U-M. “It got passed on down to us at the end of last year. For the past year, it’s been us kind of pushing it to the finish line. I’ve put in a couple of hundred hours I’d say. The other team has probably put in 1,000 hours or so.”

What has been the most fun part of this project?

I think the coolest part is, when it’s all constructed, seeing people play with it and them interact with something that we’ve actually made,” Kuhn answered. “We have a design on a 3D modeling software and we make renderings. We think we know what it’s going to look like and then we have the final completed project. It’s kind of cool to see how it transforms over time.”

All of the colored panels are made up of anodized aluminum. Every color from a real Rubik’s Cube toy is used on the giant Rubik’s Cube with the exception of white. The students replaced the white squares with purple squares.

The Rubik’s Cube was first completed on April 13. Then, it broke after hundreds of people played with it.

“It got a lot of wear and tear from everyone’s usage,” Kuhn explained. “Now, we’re just working on tightening up all of the bolts and making sure that we Loctite everything so everything will stay secure on the inside of the cube while people are playing with it. This is our last effort to make it more durable over time.”

This giant Rubik’s Cube was inspired by the giant cube on the University of Michigan’s central campus located near the Michigan Union.

“This has definitely been a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Jason Hoving, a mechanical engineering student at U-M. “This has probably been the largest project I’ve ever been involved with. There’s been a lot of deliberation in all of our decisions. We have to make sure that all of the choices that we make are going to be the best ones because it will affect the college as a whole.”

Without a doubt, this Rubik’s Cube is certainly unique. However, it didn’t quite make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

“We’re aware that there’s a larger Rubik’s Cube out there,” Hoving explained. “That one is a little bit different in its design. It doesn’t have a record out for it.”

What was the quickest time someone was able to solve this giant cube?

“The fastest time that we’ve seen has been about 45 minutes,” Hoving answered. “That was actually the first person who solved this. She is the President of the Rubik’s Cube club we have here. She was standing by at the unveiling ready to solve it.”

Kuhn and Hoving hope that their Rubik’s Cube will remain on permanent display for everyone to enjoy.

“It’s been a really fun project to work with,” Kuhn added. “We’re honored that the original team handed it down to us. We’ve been able to work with Professor Perkins on this project and he’s been a huge help.”

For those who are wondering, yes, the Rubik’s Cube is meant to be touched and solved!

Check out the giant Rubik’s Cube on the second floor of the G.G. Brown Building, located at 2350 Hayward St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.


The giant Rubik’s Cube as seen from the outside of the G.G. Brown building. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


U-M Mechanical Engineering students Ryan Kuhn and Jason Hoving are tightening the bolts to make the cube stand the test of time. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


All of the colors from an actual Rubik’s Cube were used on this giant version except for white. Purple squares replaced the white ones. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Jason Hoving is one of three U-M mechanical engineering students who worked on the Rubik’s Cube as part of their honors capstone project. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Hoving and Kuhn hope that the giant Rubik’s Cube will remain on permanent display for everyone to enjoy. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


More information about the Giant Rubik’s Cube honors capstone project at U-M. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)


Exterior of the G.G. Brown building on University of Michigan’s north campus. (Jason Rzucidlo/AmericaJR)

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