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Cowboy Motorsports keeps on trucking

STILLWATER, Okla. – Five bucks, a membership to a respected professional society and a year’s worth of hard work leading up to the annual competition is what it takes to be a member of Cowboy Motorsports.

Any student enrolled at Oklahoma State University is eligible to join the student-run competition team. However, the club is typically filled with students from OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, specifically the department of biosystems and agricultural engineering, which sponsors the team.

“The main focus of the club is to be eligible to compete each year at the International ¼ Scale Tractor Student Design Competition held in Peoria, Illinois,” said John Long, BAE assistant professor and team adviser.

Members of Cowboy Motorsports pay a $5 annual fee to be part of the them and join the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, who hosts the competition.

“The team has been around since the 1997-98 academic year and competed in the very first, 1998 ASABE ¼ scale competition year,” Long said. “The team has not necessarily been able to compete every year in the past 20 due to various circumstances, but has been a yearly competitor for at least the past three competition years that I have been involved with the team.”

The 2017 competition was no exception, as Cowboy Motorsports took their mini tractor to Illinois to be put to the test. The competition has various phases, which gives students a “360-degree workplace experience.”

Each team is given a 31 horsepower engine and a set of tires. The rest is up to them.

Work for the club can be rigorous and time consuming, but as a purely extracurricular activity, also is fun and professionally rewarding. Club members gain valuable experience in numerous areas, including engineering design and fabrication, marketing, management and public relations.

“The competition not only gives students the opportunity to design a vehicle that will represent their school among other universities, but they have to design the vehicle with a ton of constraints that will be judged by a panel of experts in the agriculture and off-road equipment industry,” Long said. “They have to produce a product that could be theoretically mass produced by a small ag equipment manufacturer, taking into consideration how easy it is to manufacture, how well can it be serviced by the end-consumer and what type of market the vehicle should be designed to meet.”

Each team also is required to submit a written design report in advance of the competition, and onsite they must sell their design in a formal presentation to panel of industry professionals playing the role of a corporate management team.

“Much of the competition is geared toward selling your design to management and students get the opportunity to sell their design to industry professionals,” said Long. “Even a well-designed machine will not make it far if you cannot market the design to upper management.”

Finally, the mud starts flying and the fun begins when teams compete in three performance events – a durability course, a maneuverability course and three tractor pulls.

When this summer’s event was all said and done, Cowboy Motorsports brought home several pieces of hardware. The team won the Innovation Award, Ergonomics Award, Most Improved Award and Best Performance Award. They also won the durability event and earned a fourth place overall finish.

“I’m very pleased with the team’s performance at the international competition,” Long said. “This is a student-run competition team that truly does it all themselves. They get the opportunity to learn engineering design, fabrication, business, marketing and oral/written communication skills, all on their own blood, sweat and tears.”

The club operates each year through their own fundraising efforts and the sponsorship of past members, local business and organizations. Without this support, the team does not have the opportunity to design and build its ¼ scale tractor each year, nor travel to the main competition in Illinois each summer.

In the fall, the club smokes around 20 pork shoulders and sells pulled pork sandwiches during Walkaround at OSU Homecoming. The major spring fundraiser is the mower clinic, where they perform preseason services such as oil changes and blade sharpening on push lawn mowers during a single-day clinic.

 

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REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Sean Hubbard0
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
157 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: sean.hubbard@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000

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