University of Wisconsin-River Falls

News Source

June 25, 2004


Scale Tractor Design Team First in Presentation at International Meet

The UW-River Falls 1/4-scale Tractor Pulling Team took first place in the presentation category at the International 1/4-scale Tractor Competition held in East Moline, Ill., in June.

In its 7th year, the national student design competition is sponsored by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. This is the 4th year UW-RF has participated.

The UW-RF team place 10th overall, competing against schools with large engineering departments as Texas A & M, Purdue University, Ohio State and Iowa State.

The UW-RF faculty advisor is agricultural engineering technology Professor Jerry Nechville. Mike Beyer, a UW-RF alumnus who works for Eaton Corporation, a manufacturer of hydraulic components in Eden Prairie, was a team advisor as well.

"The competition provides students with an experience which simulates real-world engineering," says Nechville. "This experience is a nine-month project including activities in planning, financing, designing, and fabrication of a product. The structure of the competition also requires teams to excel in the areas of written and oral communication, as well as team building."

Students on the team included: Nate Mueller, Newton, Wis; Todd Vogel, Manitowoc, Wis.; Phil Halbach, Austin, Minn.; Tom Hengst, Rib Lake, Wis.; Julie Voight, Taopi, Minn.; and Stephanie Hinz, Baldwin, Wis.

The goal for each team is to design a quarter-scale tractor, which is lawn/garden-sized. They must maximizes torque and horsepower for the 16-horsepower stock engine, which is donated for each team by Briggs and Stratton. A set of tires is donated to each team by Firestone. Teams are then responsible to design their own drive train, frame, steering components and controls.

Teams are judged on the overall power and performance of their pulling tractor as well as on a written design report, an oral presentation, and overall design characteristics of manufacturability, serviceability and safety.

The competition is designed to give students hands-on experience in both the design and manufacturing processes as well as time management and team-building skills. They learn how to manage, finance and document a design program from start to finish as well as to communicate effectively with peers and industry/professional engineers.

"We are quite pleased to learn that the UW-River Falls team placed highest among all others in Wisconsin and Minnesota," said Steve Ridley, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. "Some of the others are pretty well-known engineering schools."

The team's trophy is on display in a case in the Agricultural Sciences Building.

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