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Quarter-Scale Tractor Team Named Reserve National Champions

Students with quarter scale tractors
From left: Jeff Vander Schaaf, Megan Bodin, Mike Hansen, Brian Prchal, Jim Kellen, Ty Grone, Collin Endres, Tate Ketelhut, Luke Schemm, Logan Goslee, JJ Dooyema, Josh Irvin, Doug Prairie, Tia Muller, Joe DeBoer and Levi Wicks.

The South Dakota State University Quarter-Scale Tractor Team was named reserve champions at the 2019 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition held May 30-June 2 in Peoria, Illinois.

Students participating in the competition are challenged to harness the power and torque of a specified stock engine in order to maximize performance of a quarter-scale tractor during a series of performance challenges.

Each competing 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. The design of their tractor is up to them. A panel of industry experts judges the tractors on innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, safety, sound level and ergonomics. The teams are also judged on performance in three tractor pulls, a maneuverability course and a durability course.

Additionally, the teams present and sell their design in a formal presentation to industry experts playing the role of a corporate management team.

“Our tractor, UV-2431, was equipped with a mechanical driveline, independent front suspension, electronic throttle and full-screen display. We wanted to design an easy-to-use tractor that would stand up to the roughest conditions,” said Tate Ketelhut, the team captain.

“This year’s tractor design was chosen with the customer in mind. We wanted to make an easily serviceable tractor that was simple to understand. We also used the proven design of previous team’s tractors and then improved those designs. In order to be successful from year to year, we have to keep improving and perfecting the tractor design. Our designs are also based on the direction industry is going, which is why we had a fully electronic throttle and digital display,” he continued.

Members of the SDSU A-Class team, which is made up of students who have previously been involved in quarter-scale competitions include: Jeremiah Dooyema, Luverne, Minnesota; Logan Goslee, Glenville, Minn.; Ty Grone, Wayne, Nebraska; Michael Hansen, Lakeville, Minn.; Joshua Irvin, Austin, Minn.; Tate Ketelhut, Miller; Jesse Kramer, Ellsworth, Minn.; Tia Muller, Pipestone, Minn.; Brian Prchal, Montgomery, Minn.; Craig Santema, Milaca, Minn.; and Luke Schemm, Pella, Iowa.

The X-Class team is designed for freshmen and sophomores to help them learn more about the competition. The team uses the tractor built by the previous year’s A-Class team and makes modifications and improvements. The team members submit a basic written report describing their design changes, give a formal presentation at the event and participate in the tractor pull competition.

Members of the X-Class team include: Megan Bodin, Mankato, Minn.; Collin Endres, Alexandria, Minn.; James Kellen, Alton, Iowa; and Levi Wicks, Austin, Minn.

“I believe some of the success of this team was a result of the fact that they listened to and learned from previous years’ team members that have since graduated,” said Douglas Prairie, adviser for the team and instructor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. “The alumni have acted as advisers and coached the students on how to improve the design and perform at the event. Our team focuses on being a top three pulling tractor and then doing really well in all the other event categories. We know we aren't going to place first in every category, but we focus on being extremely competitive in all aspects of the competition.”

The team begins designing the tractor when classes start each fall. The students met twice a week throughout the year and put in a combined 3,500 hours total to design and build the tractor.

“Team members develop many important skills throughout the year, including 3D modeling, design, writing, problem-solving, fabrication and team work,” Ketelhut said.