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The South Dakota State University campus will be closing from 5 p.m. on Friday, March 31 until 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, due to the Blizzard Warning that will go into effect 7 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. on Saturday morning.  SDSU will then return to the normal weekend schedule on Saturday morning. Only essential employees as deemed by their supervisors will report to work during the closure hours. On Friday morning, ensure you continue to monitor the weather and work with your supervisor or instructor on your individual travel concerns. For additional closure information please check the Emergency Management website

2018-19 Senior Design Capstone Projects


Load King Active Gooseneck Control System - Jason Brenden, Nick Carroll and Ben Schroeder

Sponsor: Load King Trailers

"image of gooseneck control system"
    Load King Active Gooseneck Control System

Load King is a leading manufacturer of custom heavy-haul trailers. The Load King Signature Series (SS) is a detachable gooseneck trailer. The gooseneck detaches from the deck of the trailer to allow heavy machinery to load directly onto the deck. The gooseneck remains attached to the truck and is supported by a hydraulic frame lift that rests on the truck frame. Detaching the gooseneck from the deck currently requires the operator to leave the truck and operate controls for a self-contained pony motor, hydraulic/ pneumatic cylinders, and a manual lock/ratchet. The detach operation is a multi-staged process that must be done in the correct order. Missed steps in this procedure typically result in damage to the frame-lift structure, ratchet structure and other components of the trailer.

In order to increase the ease of use and to prevent operator misuse, Load King would like to automate some (or all) of the steps required to detach and reattached the gooseneck. Load King would like to have an automated systems that 1) is safe, both for the operator and trailer structure, 2) is easy to use and install, 3) is minimally invasive to the existing structure of the trailer, possibly capable of retrofitting to SS trailers currently in the field, and 4) can monitor and record system information for warranty purposes and future design reference. Sensors, valves and an onboard control unit will be added to the trailer. Plans for a phone app will allow the operator to remain in the truck while the new systems automates the hydraulic, pneumatic and manual operations for the detach/ reattach process.

Pneumatic Conveyance Valve - Shelby Wrage and Brady Gomer

Sponsor: Thor Manufacturing

"digital image of final design "
Digital mock-up of final design


Thor Manufacturing is a company out of Winnipeg, Canada, with two main product focuses: custom manufacturing and grain handling. Thor Mfg. has introduced a pneumatic grain handling system that uses air to gently transport grain (corn, soybeans, canola, etc.) to and from grain bins and trucks for small and medium sized grain farms. The project scope for Thor Manufacturing involves the design of a pneumatic conveyor valve that can withstand <15 psi pressure while maintaining a perfect seal so no pressure or grain is lost. Possible industrial applications may be pursued if the final design meets industrial durability requirements. The final design of the valve will need to support both manual and automated control features. Automation will be achieved by a single linear actuator installed on the valve, which can be controlled via remote service panel. This project is a Phase II effort for the SDSU ABE department, and will focus on optimizing the design of the valve for manufacturability, durability and cost optimization.

Diamond Z Mower Controls Project - Devon Lammers and Nawaf Alkahtan

Sponsor: Brian Burge

"image of joystick in cab"
Joystick in cab


Diamond Z Mowers is a Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based company that designs and produces industrial-grade roadside and brush-style mowers. Diamond Z currently utilizes a traditional joystick mounted inside of the vehicle near the operators' seat to control their mowers. This project involves a dramatic redesign on this control mechanism with a goal of improving functionality, reduction of packaging constraints, and a reduction in production costs. The current project path involves evaluating the usage of a Nintendo Switch game controller as the primary operator interface. This piece of hardware would meet the project goals while also providing wireless connectivity via its Bluetooth communication channel. Challenges will be interfacing the device within an industrial control environment and interfacing its Bluetooth communications with commercial hydraulic controls.

Electromagnetic Boom Breakaway - Tia Muller and Michael Schultz

Sponsor: AGCO

Consumer Product Award Runner-up at the 2019 Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering - Engineering Expo! 

"figure of electromagnet connection and breakaway concept"
Electromagnet connection and breakaway concept

AGCO Corporation is a global agricultural equipment company with numerous brand and product lines. Recognizable brand names include Massey Ferguson, Fendt and Challenger. Challenger is an industry leader in application equipment with their RoGator self-propelled sprayers. Sprayer booms ranging from 90-120 feet are available for these machines. In order to prevent machine damage, a boom-tip breakaway mechanism allows the outer 15 feet of the boom to hinge backward when an impact occurs. The current hinge and recoil design requires a chain, spring and pulley mechanism. The design is costly and hindersome to assemble for AGCO, while being tedious to adjust for the operator.

AGCO has requested that a bi-directional hinge and electromagnetic breakaway connection be designed for their 120-foot boom and tested to establish voltage to force curves for further development of this concept. The mechanism will allow breakaway in both directions, withstand G-forces at the boom tip while turning, and maintain connection during application until an impact triggers the magnetic release. A switch membrane will be located on the bottom tip section, allowing for the impact of an obstruction to shut the magnet off and allow the boom to break away. Testing will be completed using a procedure similar to AGCO field tests. The mechanism will be enabled while a force is applied at the boom-tip and the final breakaway force will be recorded for each voltage. This research will give AGCO a baseline for electromagnetic breakaway capabilities and will allow future development of software-controlled breakaway-resistance  adjustment, in comparison to the current mechanical adjustment.

Jack Wrap-It Phase Two - Matthew Cole and Brian Boese

Sponsor: Amanda Konechne

"image of hay bale and cows feeding"

Jack Wrap-It Phase Two is a continuation project brought to the Department of Agricultural Engineering to perform research on edible net wrap. Current statistics show that 15 percent of cattle deaths in the Midwest are due to plastic net wrap accumulation in their digestive systems. These deaths result in loss of revenue for farmers and ranchers throughout the nation. An effective solution to this problem would be an edible net wrap that is digestible within a cow's rumen, has microbial resistance and won't degrade due to UV exposure. There are a few biomaterial candidates that are identified and currently produced from other agricultural fields.

The biomaterials that presented the most durability when undergoing the tensile strength test were sisal, hemp and coconut. Currently, the focus will be on hemp and a new biomaterial that has been deemed worthy due to its fiber characteristics -- flax. These materials will be tested for shelf life, tensile strength and bale life. This will be done by coating or infusing the materials with various components to increase the tensile strength and reduce microbial growth. A UV light will also be utilized to test the durability of the biomaterials to simulate exposure to sunlight after long periods of time. All biomaterials will be assessed based upon experimental performance, accessibility and cost. The goal is to find a material and then design a coating/ binding process for edible net wrap that can be manufactured and sold to ranchers and farmers throughout the Midwest, while competitively priced with conventional materials. The development of an edible net wrap will benefit ranchers and farmers through healthier livestock.

NRCS Beef Feedlot - Jordan Beck, Nathan Benson and Gabi Ziese

Sponsor: Natural Resources Conservation Service

"Aerial view of preliminary lot layout"
Aerial image of preliminary lot layout

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, NRCS, is a government agency focused on assisting farmers and ranchers better their operations by implementing conservation practices. These conservation practices include design of open feedlot systems to contain the runoff from these operations. Agricultural waste from these feeding operations is detrimental to the surrounding environment, so the design of a containment system is necessary to prevent runoff from occurring at these locations. The NRCS Beef Feedlot Project is based on a site about 10 miles south of Brookings, South Dakota, on an existing cattle operation. The producer wants to expand his operation to have an open feedlot designed for 999 head of beef cattle, which eliminates the need to have the site permitted with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The design of the feedlot operation requires a site survey and aerial imagery of the projected location. The lots will be sized based on the number of cattle, which then factors into the determinations of the size of the storage pond and sediment basin. Along with these structures, the layout of a feed road and feed bunk system is required for complete design of the operation. The layout of the open feedlot system will be designed to use the natural topography of the land, so the runoff from the feedlots runs downhill to the sediment basin and storage pond. The design of the system will require the use of AutoCAD and ArcGIS Software to determine the watershed and lay out the feedlots. NRCS design tools will be used to size the storage pond and develop a cost estimate for the  project. The planned construction of the feedlot will be the summer of 2019 after an agreement on layout and cost is reached with the producer.