The rev of a Briggs and Stratton, the sweet smell of diesel, and the sparkle of freshly engineered farming equipment—with one club at Mizzou, they can have it all. And a second place title from this year’s international competition.
The Torq’N Tigers, University of Missouri’s quarter scale tractor engineering team, travelled to Peoria, Ill., during the last weekend in May to compete in the 17th annual International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition. Organized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), the competition stacks teams from 27 universities from the United States and Canada against each other to race tractors specially engineered to pull a sled weighing between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds.
The two categories into which teams can enter are the A-team track, in which teams compete with novel designs, and the X-team track, where junior teams can improve upon the A-team entry from the previous year. MU placed 2nd overall this year in the X-team competition, and 15th in the A-team competition.
Upon registration, teams are given a 31-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine and a set of Titan tires, and then it’s up to them to design and build the rest. Throughout the competition, students gain “practical experience in the design of drive train systems, tractor performance, manufacturing processes, analysis of tractive forces, weight transfer and strength of materials,” according to ASABE.
Before the competition, teams prepare their vehicles to be evaluated on innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, maneuverability, safety, sound levels and ergonomics. Additionally, teams prepare a 25-page written design report detailing every design decision made by the team, and a 10-15 minute oral presentation simulating the pitch process many engineers go through in the professional world.
MU’s Torq’N Tigers comprised eight undergraduates representing several academic areas, building a strong interdisciplinary team. The club is overseen by two agricultural systems management faculty members, Bulent Koc and Leon Shumacher.
“I would consider this year to be our most successful year because it was only the second time the club has been able to complete both an A-team and an X-team in the same year,” said treasurer Dexter Barmann, agricultural systems management major in his third year on the team.
Barmann’s contributions as treasurer helped the team secure funds to build the best tractor from the right parts.
“We build a budget each year with funds coming from CAFNR, the College of Engineering, and private sponsors. Some of our private sponsors this year included ADM, Langley Metal Works, Monsanto, Line-X of Mid-Missouri, and Danuser Machine Company. Without our sponsors we would not be able to build a tractor and compete,” he said.
While designing and preparing the tractors during the year prior takes lots of work and dedication, the tractor pull is perhaps spectators’ favorite part of the competition. Success is measured by the distance a tractor can pull in four rounds, two pulling a 1,000 lb. sled and two pulling a 1,500 lb. sled. In addition, each tractor is driven through a special course designed to test maneuverability.
To their X-team tractor, the Tiger IX, the Torq’N Tigers added a hood, installed a different exhaust system and improved weight bracket design. These improvements proved fruitful as team members Tim Brink, junior plant sciences major; AJ Feicht, senior agriculture major; and Dillon Gower, junior mechanical engineering major, drove the tractor to victory. Together they earned the second place prize behind Pennsylvania State University. This accomplishment was especially significant because the Tiger IX came in 13th at last year’s A-team competition, said Kyle Ahart, president of Torq’N Tigers.
This year’s A-team was headed by Barman; Ahart, 2014 graduate in agricultural systems management major; and Eli Bartley, vice president and senior mechanical engineering major, with assistance from 2014 graduates Ethan Marshall and Dennis Herbst. The A-team tractor, Tiger X, took 15th overall.
“Tiger X’s new design innovation was a mechanical CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) for improved pulling performance, which is the first year Torq’N Tigers has used this. It also featured an adjustable dash and a quick change rear end for ease of changing gear ratios,” Ahart said.
For more information about Torq’N Tigers or how to get involved, visit their Facebook page.