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Quarter scale tractor team: learning through competition

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Quarter scale tractor team: learning through competition

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Taylor Moline

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Student organizations are an important offering that South Dakota State University provides to all students. They can serve all sorts of different purposes and provide plenty of opportunities.

One student organization that’s unique from others on campus involves students building a tractor, at one-quarter the size of a real one, for competition.

The quarter scale tractor pulling team is a student organization formed to compete in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) student engineering-design contest.

“Basically, it’s a group of students that come together to improve skills learned in the class room and apply them to our competitions,” Luke Schemm, a member of the club, said.

The club is made up of two different teams — the A-Class Team and the X-Class Team.

The A-Class team is made up of juniors and seniors who have been involved in quarter-scale before and are familiar with the competition.

The X-Class Team is formed of freshman and sophomores who are interested in the experience, but who can benefit from the guidance of the upperclassmen.

“We all work together though,” Schemm said. “We never really split up.”

Each year, A-Class teams are given a 31-horsepower Briggs & Stratton stock gas engine, a set of Titan tires and a list of design requirements for that year’s competition set by the ASABE.

“From there we build the rest of the tractor ourselves,” Ty Grone, another member of the club, said.

Tractors can be designed how the team wants, as long as it meets ASABE requirements. When teams get to the competition, the tractor must pass a written design report, team presentation, static design judging and performance.

The performance entails three tractor pulls; a maneuverability course, which involves a sand pit and bumpy road course and a durability course — which involves testing the brakes among other aspects.

A quarter scale tractor is best described as a small utility tractor. A step above a lawn tractor, they’re only 25 percent of the size of a real tractor. Quarter scale tractors have a top speed of about 18 miles per hour.

“It’s kind of like building your own utility tractor,” Schemm said.

The tractor pull event consists of hooking the rear of the tractor to a sled that distributes weight differently as you go down the track, making it harder for the tractor to pull the weight.

The farthest tractor to go down the track wins. The sled the tractor pulls weighs anywhere from 3000 to 5000 pounds. A “full pull” for a quarter scale tractor is 200 feet.

The quarter scale tractor pulling competitions are held the last weekend in May in Peoria, Illinois. The quarter scale tractor pulling team at SDSU is always looking for new members.

“We are a pretty chill group, and we share a passion,” Schemm said.

The club is open for anyone at SDSU, regardless of major. Requirements for membership include attending twice weekly meetings and some form of contribution.

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Quarter scale tractor team: learning through competition