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2018 International Champions

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2018 Quarter Scale Team Named Overall Champions at International Competition


Over the last several years, Peoria, Illinois, has welcomed college students from across the globe to compete in the annual American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International ¼ Scale Tractor Student Design Competition. This year, South Dakota State University’s team rolled up in true Jackrabbit style with the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering’s (ABE) blue gooseneck trailer carrying this year’s winning tractor.

After slipping from first to second place by just nine points (out of 2,320 possible points) and a zip tie in the 2017 competition, SDSU’s ¼ scale tractor team was determined to design smarter, work harder and produce the best tractor at the 2018 competition.

According to senior ABE student team captain Ryan VanTassel, “23 teams competed in the events held in Peoria. There were a total of 29 teams registered that submitted reports, but six did not make weight or did not come to competition for other reasons.”

Every team receives a 31-hp Briggs & Stratton engine and a set of Titan tires. The design, engineering and construction of a tractor which must be able to pull thousands of pounds is up to the team. “Other tractors at the competition used generators and electric motors instead of gears like we used. There were even some tractors that had front and rear suspension and others that utilized a hydrostatic transmission. Some also had the driver located at the front of the tractor and Iowa State had an articulating tractor,” said junior mechanical engineering student Brian Prchal. “We built a 2 wheel drive, independent front suspension, 2-speed power shift, 4-speed transmission tractor this year. Although our A class and X class might look slightly similar, the way they each transfer power to the ground is very different.”

A panel of industry experts, many of whom are engineers, review the team’s report and evaluate their tractor based on innovativeness, manufacturability, serviceability, safety, sound level and ergonomics. Teams also pitch their design to a mock corporate management team played by the industry panel experts. Tractor performance is evaluated in three tractor pulls, a maneuverability course and a durability course.

SDSU department head Van Kelley highlighted the merits of SDSU students participating in the international ¼ scale student design competition. He says “students are exposed to a wealth of industry networking opportunities with the companies they might end up working for. That, combined with hands-on engineering experience, real-world problem solving on a tight budget and teamwork make this a great student learning experience.”

Students also gain firsthand experience in the design of drive train systems, tractor performance, manufacturing processes, analysis of tractive forces, weight transfer and the strength of materials. “Quarter scale has helped me tremendously as a student because we are using all the knowledge we learn in the classroom and are using it for practical purposes, which makes me eager to learn more and allows me to refine skills I have already learned,” said freshman ABE student Luke Schemm.

The interpersonal relationships developed through the challenges and successes of ¼ scale tractor design result in lifelong impact. According to senior ABE student Brady Buck, “Because of the long hours that we spent in the shop with each other throughout the year we built irreplaceable relationships with each other. We became a small family … Without a doubt this team not only made me a better engineer, but it also helped me build friendships that will last a lifetime.”

Both the A Class and X Class teams did very well in this year’s competition. The X Class team received 2nd place for design and was named Overall Champion. The A Class team received second in performance. The X Class team won the presentations portion of the competition and has accepted the invitation to speak at the international ASABE annual meeting in Detroit this July.

SDSU’s X-Class team, structured to help freshmen and sophomores become familiar with ¼ scale, is well positioned to compete in the 2019 competition. 

The SDSU ¼ Scale Tractor Team would like to thank their sponsors for their unwavering dedication to student success. Without their support, the team would not be international champions.

SDSU Jerome J Lohr College of Engineering; SDSU Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering; SDSU Students’ Association; Twin City Fan; KC Dairies; Industrial Machine and Engineering, LLC; Sudenga, George, Iowa; Scotchman Industries, Philip, S.D.; ABM Manufacturing, Inc.; Sturdevant's Auto Parts; Ron’s Specialty Welding/Dirt Track Supply, Watertown, S.D.; Nielson's Supply; Motion Industries, Watertown, S.D.; Dave's Collision & Repair; J&T's Exhaust World; Outlaw Graphics; Fastenal; Brookings Equipment; First Bank & Trust; Einspahr Auto; B. G. Repair; Dakota Recycling.

2017-18 Team Members

A-Class Team: X-Class Team: 
 Brady Buck (Bryant) JJ Dooyema (Luverne, Minnesota)
 Joe DeBoer (Ashton, Iowa) Tate Ketelhut (Miller)
 Lucas Derdall (Volga) Luke Schemm (Pella, Iowa)
 Caleb Dinse (New Ulm, Minnesota)  
 Seth Haigh (Philip)  
 T.J. Harder (Eagan, Minnesota)  
 Alex Koepke (Sioux Falls)  
 Miranda LeBrun (Reading, Minnesota)  
 Brian Prchal (Montgomery, Minnesota)  
 Tia Muller (Pipestone, Minnesota)  
 Mitch Sandey (Jordan, Minnesota)  
 Ryan VanTassel (Midland)  
 Nathan Wright (Houghton)