Ira Kuenzli, Agricultural Engineering Student
Why I chose FABE
I chose agricultural engineering because, although it is not as well-known as ME or Civil, it provides a more personalized-attention approach to classes and it is much less competitive, which I believe makes it a much friendlier and collaborative environment. You form a sense of community in the FABE building because the common meeting place is the computer lab. You go there before or after your classes and see the same people there who tend to become your closest friends.
Design Engineer (Drives and Propulsion)
I am currently serving as a design engineer on the drives and propulsion team at John Deere’s Global Crop Harvesting Product Development Center. The specifics of the project which I’m working on are confidential; however, my main responsibility is taking belt idler arms which are currently welded using multiple pieces and redesigning them in ProE, a type of CAD program, as cast parts. Castings are highly manufacturable and are able to be mass produced without the need for multiple pieces and welding which causes manufacturing costs to increase as well as introduces the chance of error while assembling the different components. Weight and functionality also need to be taken into consideration when designing. Castings are purchased by weight and any unnecessary cost can increase the price of the machines. This position requires skill using CAD software as well as an understanding of different manufacturing processes including machining and casting.
Engine Product Verification and Validation Engineer (Test Engineer)
As an engine test engineer at John Deere’s Global Crop Harvesting Product Development Center, I had the opportunity to work on the development of the engine platform for model year 2014 combines. One of my responsibilities was the weekly processing of data sent in remotely from experimental machines throughout the world and generating reports using the data. Using these reports, my fellow engine team engineers were able to make decisions regarding the design and layout of the engine deck. I was also given the opportunity to assist other test engineers with full vehicle dynamometer tests and cooling system tests.
Being a test engineer involves traveling to test sites to do live application tests. I had the opportunity to travel to central Iowa for a week to update software in test machines and collect data while harvesting to verify that the software updates provided from John Deere Power Systems didn’t sacrifice and performance or efficiency of the machine.
The long term project I was given centered on debris management and focused on finding a correlation between the air shear stress required to remove standard debris and the surface roughness of varying materials found on the engine deck of the combine. While working around my long term project I also oversaw the building of two 13.5L engine durability decks. These decks are mock ups of the actual deck found on a model year 2014 combine. The purpose of these decks is to test the design of various components ranging from exhaust and fuel systems to cooling and sheet metal. The decks are run for 1000 hours under varying dynamometer loads. At the end of the 1000 hours, the decks are disassembled and each component is checked for any sort of failure.