Sled Dogs take two awards at international competition

The U of S Sled Dogs Quarter Scale Tractor Team earned awards for most sportsmanlike team and "test and development" at the 17th Annual International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition in Peoria, Illinois, May 29 to June 1, 2014. A battery meltdown during the maneuverability competition and gear shift mishap in one of the pulls took the team out of the top five for the overall competition win.

"The team never quit striving for top performance, though,” said faculty advisor Terry Fonstad, P.Eng.

When the smoke cleared, the U of S team was the top pick by their competitors and industry engineer judges for the Sportsmanship Award. The judges also gave the Sled Dogs top honours for their Test and Development program for the design, testing, fabrication and assembly of the 2014 entry.

Adding to the experience in Peoria, the team received a complete CR3000 data logger system from Campbell Scientific, valued at nearly $6,000, for an award from the 2013 competition.

"This equipment will be put to good use expanding the student teams testing and development capabilities,” Fonstad said. He is joined by Mike Miller as faculty advisors to the team.

The Sled Dogs have two teams of about 20 engineering students. The A-team is composed typically of senior students who build a complete 31 horsepower pulling tractor from concept to fabrication, including assembly and testing. The X-team, primarily junior students, work on three design improvements to the previous year’s tractor and then use it to compete against other university X-teams.

“The team would like to thank all their sponsors for their continued support in 2014,” Fonstad added.

The University of Kentucky won the competition, which is unique among student engineering design contests in that it provides a realistic “360-degree” workplace experience. Given only an engine and a set of tires, the teams spend the academic year designing and building utility or recreational pulling tractors that they present and demonstrate in Peoria. Teams are judged on a written design report, a design inspection, and a formal presentation to industry experts playing the role of a corporate management team. Running on a 10% ethanol fuel blend, the machines are then put to the test in a series of tractor pulls. A total of 28 schools and 46 tractors from across Canada and the United States were entered in this year’s competition.