Small but mighty is an apt description of the Kansas State University quarter-scale tractor that took second at an international design competition.

Small but mighty is an apt description of the Kansas State University quarter-scale tractor that took second at an international design competition.

The KSU Powercat Tractors Quarter-Scale Design A Team took the second place finish at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers annual International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition in Peoria, Ill.

Among the team members was Cody Hommertzheim of Pratt who is a junior in agricultural technology management. 

Other area team members are Aaron Spare, junior in biological systems engineering from St. John and Nicholas Depenbusch, May 2012 bachelor’s graduate in biological systems engineering from Nashville.

Placing high at the quarter-scale competition is nothing new for K-State teams. In the last 14 years a team from K-State has finished in the top three a total of 13 times. The competition has been held for 15 years.

Each team in the competition has to build a 31 horsepower quarter-scale tractor, document the market research, testing and development that went into the design.

The tractors are mostly aluminum and steel with some carbon fiber in the frame, said Hommertzheim who was responsible for fabrication testing.

A rapid prototype machine is used in the construction of the tractor.

Each team has to build a quarter-scale tractor with a 31-horse power motor. It has to be safe and ergonomic. The tractor is designed for tractor pull like are used at county fairs where tractors pull weighted sleds to test horsepower and torque.

The tractor uses an automatic transmission designed to get the best torque ratio for the 31 horsepower.

Although it is a quarter size tractor, it uses an engine from a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower. The final product costs from $5,500 to $6,500.

The purpose of the competition, other than to build the best tractor, is to get some experience in the real world designing and building tractors.

“We get some practical knowledge and some first hand experience,” Hommertzheim said.

A corporate management team evaluates the team designs, oral presentations and documented written material. The tractors then participate in a live tractor pull to evaluate the performance capabilities. 

The competition is a perfect test for Hommertzheim who wants to work in the industry where he can take a design and then build the real tractor.

“I want to do field tests. I want to manufacture parts and make a production model and go from there,” Hommertzheim said.

Two teams from KSU participated in the event. The A Team took first in the Campbell Scientific category for its use of electronics; second place for oral presentation; first place for written report; and second place for tractor pull performance, which was based on four pulls.

The university’s X-Team also took first place in the competition for the oral presentation and tractor pull performance categories. The X-Team is composed of freshmen and sophomores who are new to the contest.

A total of 26 teams, 22 teams from the U.S. and four teams from Canada, took part in the competition.