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Quarter-Scale Tractor Team wins national title

SD State's quarter-scale tractor team wins national title
South Dakota State University’s Quarter-Scale Tractor Team won the 2018 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition held May 31-June 3 in Peoria, Illinois. From left, Brian Prchal, Jeff VanderSchaaf, precision agriculture machinery research coordinator, Mike Hansen, Ty Grone, JJ Dooyema, Douglas Prairie, instructor, T.J. Harder, Mitchell Sandey, Tate Ketelhut, Seth Haigh, Nathan Wright, Alex Koepke, Luke Schemm, Tia Muller, Joseph DeBoer, Ryan VanTassel and Brady Buck. Not pictured are Lucas Derdall, Caleb Dinse and Miranda LeBrun.

South Dakota State University student teams have been successful the past few months. The university’s human-powered vehicle team won titles earlier this year in American Society of Mechanical Engineers events in State College, Pennsylvania, and in Pomona, California.

Not to be outdone, the SDSU Quarter-Scale Tractor Team won the 2018 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition held May 31-June 3 in Peoria, Illinois.

Each competing quarter-scale tractor team must submit a written design report before the competition. The teams are given a 31-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine and a set of Titan tires. Following that, the tractor is left to the students to both design and build. A panel of industry experts judge the machines on innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, safety, sound level and ergonomics.

In addition, the teams present and sell their design to a corporate management team, played by the industry experts. The machines are judged on performance in three tractor pulls, a maneuverability course and a durability course.

“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, who is from Montgomery, Minnesota.

“We built a two-wheel drive, independent front suspension, two-speed power shift, four-speed transmission tractor this year. Although our A class and X class tractors might look slightly similar, the way they each transfer power to the ground is very different,” he continued.

Members of the SDSU A-Class team, which is made up of students who have been involved in quarter-scale competitions include: Brady Buck, Bryant; Joe DeBoer, Ashton, Iowa; Lucas Derdall, Volga; Caleb Dinse, New Ulm, Minnesota; Logan Goslee, Glenville, Minn.; Seth Haigh, Philip; T.J. Harder, Eagan, Minn.;  Alex Koepke, Sioux Falls; Miranda LeBrun, Reading, Minn.; Tia Muller, Pipestone, Minn.; Anna Mundahl, Loretto, Minn.; Brian Prchal, Montgomery, Minn.;  Mitch Sandey, Jordan, Minn.; Ryan VanTassel, Midland; and Nathan Wright, Houghton.

Members of the X-Class team, which is designed for freshmen and sophomores to help them learn more about the competition include: JJ Dooyema, Luverne, Minn.; Tate Ketelhut, Miller; and Luke Schemm, Pella, Iowa.

Students gain firsthand experience in the design of drivetrain systems, tractor performance, manufacturing processes, analysis of tractive forces, weight transfer and the strength of materials.

SDSU’s quarter-scale tractor team is not linked to any university class or lab fees to help support its expenses. Additionally, the students do their own fundraising and sponsorship efforts. The team receives some guidance from faculty and staff, but overall is self-run.