Quarter-Scale Tractor Design Competition

by Willie E. Hart and Bobby Bledsoe
Tractor Competition

Members of the UT student branch of ASAE recently competed in the first ever Quarter-Scale Tractor Design Competition held in East Moline, Illinois. A total of 17 teams competed and UT's Biosystems Engineering students placed third overall. They were first in their oral presentation, first (along with six other teams) in Safety Design, and second with their written design report.

In the Quarter-Scale Tractor Design Competition, students are challenged to harness the power and torque of a specified stock engine in order to maximize performance in a tractor pull. The size and shape of the tractor are similar to those of a typical lawn and garden tractor, but very few parts are used directly from commercial machines. Although the performance competition is considered the highlight of the event, it only determines part of the final score. Students must also submit a written design report, a design log and make a team presentation.

The written report has several parts. The team objectives must be stated along with the design criteria as spelled out in the rules for competition. The design details section counts the most points. In it the team must describe the tractor, its major components and weight distribution. Any original or innovative ideas should be clearly stated and explained, including assembly and detail drawings where appropriate. This section of the report should describe component selection and the design analysis. The testing and development section includes both testing details and general concepts gained from testing.

A cost estimate is also required to encourage students to think about their design in a more professional way. If the same machine were being designed in industry, they would have to account for the cost of components, materials and labor. For this competition, teams should be able to justify their design in terms of the cost involved in producing the machine in the commercial market.

Through involvement in this competition, students gained practical experience in the design of drive-train systems, tractor performance, manufacturing processes, analysis of traction forces, weight transfer and strength of materials. In addition, they developed skills in communication, leadership, teamwork, time management, fundraising, development and testing. Students also gained an awareness of the capabilities and potential pitfalls in designing for manufacture and assembly.

Design fundamentals such as strength of materials, statics and power transfer were major factors as the students designed their frame, drive-train, hitch, clutch, weight brackets and other parts.

One of the primary concerns of industry today is that many engineering students are entering the workforce with little or no practical knowledge or design experience. In an effort to help prepare students to be more effective professional engineers, ASAE, the Society for Engineering in Agriculture, Food and Biological Systems, initiated this design competition. The Quarter-Scale Tractor Design Competition provides professional and educational experience, and it is a whole lot of fun as well. This year's event was held on May 29-31 and was sponsored by Briggs & Stratton, Case Corporation, Deere & Company, Firestone and New Holland. According to team advisors, Dr. Bobby Bledsoe and Dr. Willie Hart, students are already excited about competing again next year.

There were sixteen members on the team which designed and built this year's entry, and seven of them were able to make the trip to East Moline. Among those who made this year's trip were Krista Kelly, Ty Kirk, Jerry Peck, Michael Perkey and Seth Rye. Carmen Truitt Anderson was the group coordinator, and Eric Simmons was the tractor driver. Team members not making the trip were John Conroy, Clinton Lafferty, Michael Moran, Joe Nenninger, Dirk Pohlmann, Amanda Stiles, Newman Webb, Chris Wheeler and Chris Whitten.

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