The winning streak continues. For the 16th time in the last 17 years, a Kansas State University quarter-scale tractor team has won or placed in the top three at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers’ annual International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition.
This year’s A Team — juniors and seniors — and its Powercat tractor placed second out of 29 entries, and the X Team — freshmen and sophomores — and its tractor placed third out of 13 entries at the May 29-June 1 event at the Expo Gardens in Peoria, Illinois.
“K-State was the only school to have both A and X teams place in the top three,” said Joe Harner, head of the university’s biological and agricultural engineering department. “This was significant because the X team entries were based on modifying the 2013 tractor and the A team entries were based on designing a new tractor for 2014.”
Teams spend the 2013 academic year designing and building the utility or recreational pulling tractors that they present and demonstrate at the competition. Each team is supplied with one 31-horsepower Briggs and Stratton Vanguard Big Block Engine — with the option to run two 16-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engines — and a set of Titan tires. They are then responsible for acquiring all other components of their machines. All the tractors run on a 10 percent ethanol fuel blend sponsored by the Kentucky Corn Growers Association.
“The support we receive from the university, coupled with our students’ work ethic and advisers’ guidance, enabled us to enter A and X teams,” Harner said. “This encourages all of the team members to be involved in the creative process and truly seek to improve the design each year. The students take pride in representing K-State and continuing the tradition of excellence of previous teams.”
The quarter-scale competition is unique among student engineering-design contests in that it provides a realistic workplace experience. Industry experts judge each design for innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, maneuverability, safety, sound level and ergonomics. Teams also submit a written design report in advance of the competition, and on site they must sell their design in a formal presentation to judges, who are playing the role of a corporate management team. Finally, machines are put to the test in a performance demonstration requiring four tractor pulls.
Advisers for this year’s team were Pat Murphy, professor of biological and agricultural engineering; Ed Brokesh, instructor of biological and agricultural engineering; Dan Flippo, assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering; Jon Zeller, research technician in biological and agricultural engineering; John Kramer, adviser for biological and agricultural engineering; Lou Ann Claasen, administrative specialist for the biological and agricultural engineering department; and Jim Schmidt, a Kansas State University biological and agricultural engineering alumnus and the senior mechanical engineering manager for the Dell Corp.
Local members of Kansas State University’s A or X Quarter-Scale Tractor teams and leadership position, include: Zach Stejskal, biological systems engineering, Bison; Lars Peterson, biological systems engineering, Lindsborg; Luke LaTourell, agricultural technology management, Sterling, X Team; and Aaron Spare, biological systems engineering, St. John,