With work that can start as early as last September and carry on right through the competition, the International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition carries its fair share of challenges. But in the end, there are plenty of winners - from students who learn plenty about how to take and idea from paper to iron to advisers who work with those same students in the process - and I bet they learn something too.
The results are in and the 2010 overall winner is the University of Illinois. The school did shine in the tractor pull winning both heats in the 1,050-pound and 1,550-pound classes; which doesn't happen often. The Illini Pullers, created the "Chief's Tradition" tractor, which was a five-engine machine that could move the sled smartly down the track.
While the pull is the most visible portion of the competition for a lot of people, the teams have to score well elsewhere too, providing a solid student presentation of the tractor to a team of judges that act as if they're corporate management doing a design review. They also get scored in design areas including manufacturability, serviceability, safety, ergonomics and test and development. They have to develop a tractor that stays within weight parameters, hits specific sound targets, and meets a host of other requirements that can trip them up on the way to the pull.
The Illinois team put together a machine that included a custom transmission and an electronic control unit so sophisticated the students say the tractor could be remote controlled "with minor modifications."
Congratulations to the U of I team for winning this year's event. Later this week I'll break down winners of other major categories in the event to give you an idea of how extensive the program has become. That winning team gets a $1,000 check, the Detra-Wehner Traveling Trophy and a plaque.