Tractor Team Takes Second at International Competition

 Despite a serious last-minute challenge, the Kansas State University Helwig Farms Quarter-Scale Tractor Team took second place out of 22 teams from other universities at the 26th annual American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers’ International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition in Peoria, Illinois.

K-State’s team has finished among the top two in this competition 18 times out of the 26 years the event has been held, but this year’s success didn’t come easy. Each team must perform multiple tasks for the competition, including a written design report, a formal design presentation and a series of performance events — a durability course, a maneuverability course and three tractor pulls. The K-State team completed the report and presentation according to plan, but the night before the first performance event, the main power shaft in the tractor’s transmission snapped in two, requiring instant repairs in order to be used in the competition.

“The team was clearly frustrated but quickly rose to the occasion and began formulating a plan to solve the problem,” said Ed Brokesh, advisor for the team and assistant professor in the Carl and Melinda Helwig Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.

The team made plans to temporarily repair the shaft for the events the following day, sacrificing the use of second gear in the process, while a new shaft was fabricated and installed in time for the final portion of the competition, the pulling events.

Despite this obstacle, K-State’s tractor finished second in the durability competition. During that competition, others on the team were dispatched to Chicago to purchase materials for the new shaft, which was built and installed in the hobby machine shop of a K-State alumnus.

The new transmission was installed just in time for the final portion of the competition, the pulling event, and performed admirably with a fourth-place finish.

“Every competition has its challenges, but for most teams, this type of setback would keep them from finishing the competition at all, much less taking second place,” Brokesh said. “This level of resolve is part of why K-State has been so successful in this event over the years.”

In addition to Brokesh, team advisors are Ryan Zecha, biological and agricultural engineering alumnus, Eli Sheppard, research technologist for the department, and Dan Flippo, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering.

Students on the Helwig Farms Quarter-Scale Tractor Team include:

Jacob Porter, junior in agricultural technology management, Beloit; Cale McCabe, 2023 graduate in biological systems engineering, Buhler; Cole Stahlman, junior in agricultural technology management, Concordia; Joseph Kueker, junior in biological systems engineering, Hesston; Hayden Pierce, 2023 graduate in biological systems engineering, Hutchinson; William Delzeit, junior in mechanical engineering, Lenexa; Dalton Rizzo, junior in electrical engineering, Louisburg; Samuel Underwood, senior in mechanical engineering, Mankato; Taylor Schroeder, junior in biological systems engineering and agricultural economics, Riley; Braden Bramhall, junior in mechanical engineering, Vermillion.

From out of state: Cole Marchy, 2023 graduate in agricultural technology management, Ceres, California; Amar Pannu, 2023 graduate in agricultural technology management, Patterson, California; Payton Renner, 2023 graduate in agricultural technology management, Lee’s Summit, Missouri; John Trimmer, sophomore in agricultural technology management, Maitland, Missouri; Micah Shonkwiler, sophomore in biological systems engineering, St. Joseph, Missouri; Noah Nevitt, senior in biological systems engineering, Lincoln, Nebraska; Aubrey Paulk, junior in biological systems engineering, Charlotte, Tennessee.

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Photo: The Kansas State University Helwig Farms Quarter-Scale Tractor Team poses with its awards after taking second place at the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers’ International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition despite facing serious adversity. From left: Ed Brokesh, Mark Wilkins, Eli Sheppard, Samuel Underwood, Dalton Rizzo, Aubrey Paulk, Cole Marchy, Peyton Renner, Cale McCabe, Hayden Peirce, Joseph Kueker, Taylor Schroeder, William Delzeit, Micah Shonkwiler, John Trimmer, Melinda Helwig, Carl Helwig and Ryan Zecha.