The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) recently held the 16th annual International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition at the Expo Gardens in Peoria, Ill. Twenty-nine colleges and universities from the U.S. and Canada participated in the competition, which provides students with realistic engineering and business experience.
Student teams act as a "company" entering a new market and are challenged to define customer requirements, design a machine and produce a prototype, while being mindful of production costs and expected profit. Teams then compete with the objective of convincing the "management" (judges) to select their design for production.
The teams spent the 2012-2013 academic year designing and building their prototype tractors, which are roughly the size of a lawn mower. Each team was supplied with one 31-hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine, a set of Titan tires and various design constraints to guide their design.
During the competition, teams gave a presentation to "sell" their design to the judges - similar to an NPI gate review. Designs were then rated based on innovation, safety, serviceability, manufacturability, ergonomics, development, sound power and maneuverability. After submitting detailed design and cost reports, the machines were put to the test in a series of tractor pulls.
Kansas State University took home the overall top honors, while the University of Kentucky and Modesto Junior College rounded out the top three. Regardless of where they placed in the competition, each team benefitted from the hands-on experience in product and manufacturing process development.
Caterpillar was a platinum sponsor of this year's competition, and many employees offered their time and expertise to the event as volunteers or judges. ASABE is just one example of Caterpillar's support of pipeline programs for students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
"STEM programs like the ASABE 1/4 Scale Tractor Design Competition allow us to showcase Caterpillar to future technical talent and encourage them to consider Caterpillar as a future employer," said Debbie Lewellyn, STEM Student Pipeline Coordinator.
For more information on the competition, please visit ASABE.org.