Austin grad on SDSU 1/4 scale tractor team that wins national competition

Published 8:32 am Friday, July 15, 2022

The South Dakota State University 1/4 Scale Tractor Team, which includes an Austin graduate, was recently named champions of the 2022 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition.

Austin’s Levi Wicks was a member of the 19-person team. He is currently majoring in mechanical engineering.

This year’s team competed against 24 teams from across the United States and Canada. 

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 At the beginning of the school year, each team is given a 31-hp Briggs & Stratton engine and a set of Titan tires, which they design their tractor around. The team meets several times a week throughout the school year to discuss the tractor design, select components and build the tractor. During the spring semester, the team put in additional hours to prepare the written design report and formal presentation. 

The team focused their design goals on a substantial redesign of the operator station and turning the transmission 90 degrees to allow for easier access to get on and off the tractor. 

 At the competition, tractors are judged by a panel of industry experts based on innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, safety, sound level and ergonomics. 

 The tractor is first evaluated in a technical inspection process where industry engineers seek to ensure the tractors comply with competition safety and design rules. The tractor is then put to the test through a maneuverability course, durability course, and a tractor pull. Additionally, the team gives a formal design presentation explaining various aspects of the tractor’s design to industry judges.