COLUMBIA, Mo.– The students of the University of Missouri Torq ’N Tigers team have spent the last year building a quarter-scale pulling tractor from the ground up.
The team is taking the tractor, Tiger IX, to Peoria, Ill., to compete in the International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition, May 30-June 2. Competing teams receive a stock engine and a set of tires. The rest is up to them.
“They do the fundraising, they do the design, they do the production and they solicit sponsorships,” MU Extension specialist and adviser Dan Downing says. “It is a student activity from one end to the other.”
Members of Torq ’N Tigers are mostly agricultural systems management students from the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, and mechanical engineering students from the College of Engineering.
The team met twice a week for the past year to prepare for the competition. Their first task was raising $10,000 to design and build the quarter-scale tractor.
“We’ve been blessed here at the University of Missouri,” says Dexter Barmann, a sophomore from Maryville, Mo. “We have good private sponsors, support from local companies and companies around the state.”
“The quarter-scale tractor competition is more than a tractor pull,” Downing says. “It is actually a design competition that prepares students to go into the workplace by bridging between the theory of mechanical engineering and hands-on practical application.”
The team will be judged on the tractor design, an oral presentation and a tractor pull. The tractor will also be evaluated on manufacturability, safety, ergonomics, testing and development, and sound.
More than 20 universities will compete in Peoria. Members of the MU team think Tiger IX has a good chance of doing well at the competition, which is organized by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.
“We’ve worked all year and now we have a completed tractor and we see how all the hours of being here until 2 o’clock in the morning have paid off,” says Barmann. “We want to show that we don’t have to have an $80,000 budget like some other teams do in order to compete, that we can win with a fraction of that.”
Leon Schumacher, professor of agricultural systems management and club adviser, says this project can have a big impact on students’ futures. He says that students that are involved in the quarter-scale tractor team almost always draw interest from companies looking to hire talented engineers.
“One of the things a project like this does is put different personalities in the same room,” Schumacher adds. “They have to sort things out and come up with what everyone thinks is the best possible solution. Sometimes the biggest thing they get out of this is how to work on a project as a team. That’s important, that’s what industry wants and that’s what these students need when they leave Mizzou.”