Students Convert Farm Tractor to All-Electric-Powered Tractor

Students with electric-powered tractorPride was the dominant emotion recently as 19 mechanical engineering technology (MET) students and a smattering of agricultural business and welding technology students at Alfred State College gave new life to a 1949 “left-for-dead” gasoline-powered Allis Chalmers “G” farm tractor found on Craig’s List by converting it to an all-electric-powered tractor this semester. Additionally, one student from the digital media and animation program completed an internship requirement by filming a documentary of the process.

Under the direction of Dr. Matthew Lawrence, assistant professor, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology, students collaborated on the project, often working on the tractor outside of class and lab time, during the rehab.

According to Lawrence, “The School of Arts and Sciences generously funded this project-based learning opportunity for seventh-semester students in the MECH 7223 energy systems class. The tractor will be ‘owned’ by Terry Tucker, dean, School of Arts and Sciences at the college, and used at the college’s Groveland facility. On one charge, the tractor can plow for two hours or cultivate all day.”

Senior MET student Chris Graham, Elmira, admits when he first learned of the project he was skeptical. “I’m not from ‘the country,’” he said, “so had never been around tractors, had no experience with them. So my first response was ‘are you kidding me?’ But, turns out, it was a great experience. We all learned so much—and it was good, too, because we [the student group] took over the project and Dr. Lawrence allowed us to work on it on our own time…we didn’t always need to have someone looking over our shoulder. And, the project will now take on a new life, helping the environment and supporting the college’s goal of sustainability.”

Graham, who will intern with Hardinge, Inc., in Elmira next semester, says that he likes the “hands-on aspect of learning at Alfred State. I never wanted to be stuck in a classroom all day, every day,” he says. “I wanted to be doing something, and rehabbing the tractor certainly allowed us to put our education to work!”

As a final touch, students completed the make-over by painting the tractor a bright orange to match its original paint job.

Pictured here: (kneeling) Chris Schwarz, Vestal; Graham; Chris Biela, Franklinville; Bill Reinhardt, Averill Park; Kenny Potter, Painted Post; Brian McCarthy, Elma; Colby Austin, Olean; Cory Tharnish, Delevan; Lawrence; Kyle Blackstone, Canandaigua; Roy Trask, Newfield; Christian Pelfrey, Bronxville; Justin Snell, Sanborn; Jeremy Keesler, Little Valley; Morgan Presher, LeRoy; Chelsea Kamrowski, Scio; Scott Paeth, Kendall; Kyle Duff, Tafton; Kevin Sullivan, Gasport; Anthony Orea, Staten Island; and Darren Lee, Brooklyn. Not Pictured: Hector Cuero, Middletown, and Ricardo Ramos, Brooklyn.