June 10, 2013 --After breaking into the top ten for the first time in 2012, the 2013 team from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls improved their standing with an 8th place finish overall in the 16th Annual International ¼-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition May 30-June 2 in Peoria, Ill.
The event, sponsored by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), brought 29 teams from colleges and universities across North America together. Representing UWRF were: Carl Ballman of Dennison, Minn, Ben Borgardt of Pickett, Alex Donnay of Glencoe, Minn., Jacob Hannemann of Edgar, Dietrich Henckel of Viroqua, Devin Stuhr of Marion, Jared Wardall of Merrill, and Dylan Young of Poy Sippi.
Each team spent the 2012-13 academic year designing and building their tractor. The team was supplied with one 31-hp Briggs and Stratton Vanguard Big Block Engine and a set of Titan tires; the team must fabricate or acquire all other components of their tractors. Over the four-day competition, industry experts judge each design for innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, maneuverability, safety, sound level, and ergonomics. Teams also submit a written design report in advance of the competition and "sell" their design in a formal oral presentation on-site. Finally, the tractors are put to the test in a performance demonstration comprised of four tractor pulls.
One of the first components of the competition is the technical inspection where the brakes, hot surface protection, engine speed and other technical and safety factors are checked. The UWRF tractor passed inspection the first time through earning them first place in the "first time through" award. Their prize was a self-darkening welding helmet.
An extra-curricular cook-off contest has evolved over the years, initiated by the teams themselves for a break during the long days of competition. The UWRF strategy to feature locally made items proved successful. Bratwurst donated by Beck's Meats of Ring earned them first place in the main dish category. Cheese Curds from Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, Ellsworth, and chocolate chip cookies from Best Maid Cookie Company, River Falls, brought first place awards in the side dish and dessert categories, respectively.
Photo: L-R, Hanneman, Borgardt, Young, Stuhr, Henckel, Wardall, Donnay, and Ballman.