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Students build tractor from scratch

Students build tractor from scratch

Maverick One is now a template for other engineering programs

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A team of eight first-year mechanical engineering students from Minnesota State University (MSU), Mankato built a tractor from square one.

The students built the tractor, named Maverick One after the school’s athletics teams, for entry into the Tractor Student Design Competition held in Peoria, Ill. between May 30 and June 2.

The team’s finished product marked the first time a school from Minnesota finished a tractor for the competition.

Aside from a stock 31hp Briggs and Stratton engine and a set of Titan tires that each team in the competition received, the rest of the design was left up to the competitors.

The entries had to meet certain size and weight requirements, though.

“Not only did we have to fabricate all of our panels, sheet metal, frame and chassis, we didn’t use a lot of structural items,” Spencer Velzke, MSU’s team captain, told “Each teammate had his or her own niche things to work on and what he or she was good at.

“Because each team is given the same engine and wheels to start with, it’s the design that sets you apart from the other competitors.”

Since the team consisted of first-year students, they had no design template with which to work.

That, along with a short window to finish the build, became one of their biggest challenges, Velzke said.

“We only had 10 months to complete the build and we had nothing to base our design off of,” he said. “We spent a lot of time retrying different things and different iterations of designs and basically just kept trying until something worked.”

A sponsorship from Industrial Fabrication Services in Lake Crystal, Minn. helped reduce wait times for materials, and a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture covered some the costs, he said.

The students had to work on the tractor at Velzke’s home shop once school let out to ensure they completed it on time. They also ran tests on his hobby farm to ensure it could operate properly.

“The time at my shop allowed us to pull some implements, and we even pulled a truck on some different terrains,” he said.

Future classes will use the tractor as an inspiration for graduating projects, Velzke said.

“In order to graduate, you need to have a senior design project,” he said. “The (engineering) department is letting us do it again for the upcoming tractor design competition and as our senior project. It’s crazy to think that something so entertaining can be used for something so critical like graduation.”

Minnesota State University photo

Comments (1)

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Well done! Very rewarding project.
Dave |Aug 5 2019 9:01AM