Agriculture News

June 5, 2017

Purdue team drives home winner of ¼-scale tractor competition

tractor design Austin Bossaer, a 2017 Purdue University graduate, prepares to pilot his team’s entry in the 2017 ASABE ¼-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition. The Purdue team was named overall winner of the competition, held June 1-4 in Peoria, Illinois. (Photo provided by John Lumkes) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Teams from Purdue University have historically done very well at the prestigious American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers ¼-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition, but the top prize has proved elusive.

Until this year.

The Purdue team was named overall winner of the competition, held June 1-4 in Peoria, Illinois, earning a $1,500 cash prize and $2,000 in scholarships.

The team consisted of seniors Austin Bossaer (Attica), Derek Franke (Monroeville), Austin Franz (Monroeville), Zach Hurd (West Lafayette) and James Marschand (Connersville); junior Joshua Nurrenbern (Haubstadt); and sophomores Julian Halicki (New Castle), Eric Kong (Spencer), William Malecki (LaCrosse), Mitchell Moore (Plymouth) and Brian Sipkema (Fair Oaks).

“We’ve had multiple top-five finishes over the years but it is nice to finally be champions,” said John Lumkes, professor of agricultural and biological engineering and team adviser.

The competition, held annually since 1998, is designed to offer engineering students with a practical design, manufacturing and sales experience. Each team is provided with a 31-horsepower engine and a set of tires then required to design and build their own frame, drivetrain, hitch, clutch, weight brackets and other parts.

The entire process takes about six months, with the students devoting as much as 10 hours per week to the project.

A panel of industry experts evaluates each entry on innovation, maneuverability, serviceability, safety, sound level and ergonomics. Teams must also submit a written design report. Finally, the students must “sell” their design in a formal presentation to industry experts.

“There is growing concern that students are entering the job market without a lot of practical experience,” Lumkes said. “This competition is unique in that it gives students a chance to learn by doing.”

During the competition each vehicle is tested in three events designed to measure performance, durability and maneuverability. The Purdue team took first place in both performance and maneuverability and second in durability.

“It was an impressive performance across the board,” Lumkes said. “The students excelled in a number of areas, including communication, teamwork, research and development and time management, skills that are essential for success in the modern engineering job market.”

Lumkes said the competition was especially challenging this year, with 31 teams representing top engineering colleges from the United States, Canada and Israel.

“We’re honored to win this, given the quality of the competition and the quality of our competitors,” said team member James Marschand.

Writer: Darrin Pack, 765-494-8415, 

Source: John Lumkes, 765-494-0822,

Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-8415;
Shari Finnell, Manager/Media Relations and Public Information,  
Agriculture News Page

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