LIMA — University of Northwestern Ohio hosted the State of Ohio Agricultural and Industrial Diagnostics Career Development Event contest Friday, a contest held by the Future Farmers of America.
“This used to be called the Tractor Troubleshooting Contest until a few years ago,” Dave Christen, an instructor at the university and one of the organizers for Friday’s event, said. “The name change enabled us to use anything related to the agriculture industry.”
Teams of two from the top 15 FFA clubs in the state, including a team from Spencerville, came together to compete in diagnosing and repairing mechanical issues on a variety of agricultural equipment.
“We’ve got everything from semis to combines to three tractors,” Christen said.
Each of the five stations in the contest presents a unique set of challenges for the competitors.
“At the beginning, the teams are given a scenario of what led up to the problem, and they get to read the repair orders on each vehicle,” Christen said. “Then they are given 20 minutes to diagnose the bugs. There are several bugs on each station.”
“The teams are scored on safety, the proper use of tools and on their diagnostic skills, as far as the step-by-step procedure they used to get to the problem,” Tom Oglesby, the career development event coordinator for the Ohio FFA, said. “Any full minutes they do not use each score them an extra point.”
While many think of equipment repair simply being a matter of turning a wrench to tighten a bolt, repairs on modern agricultural equipment is much more involved.
“Several stations have laptops,” Christen said. “Everyone has at least a service manual or operators manual they have to use, as well. The problems can range from electrical issues to mechanical issues to hydraulic issues. These teams can expect anything from a state competition.”
These situations mirror possible scenarios each of these competitors may face on their own farms.
“The thing is, a lot of these kids will have very modern equipment on the farm,” Christen said. “Seeing this equipment in operation helps them quite a bit.
For these high school competitors, this contest is an opportunity not only to show their mechanical expertise, but also to check out a university in which they may continue their education.
“We get quite a few participants in this competition coming here,” Christen said. “It’s a big plus. They’re good kids.”
Part of the reason is that the university offers a total of $75,000 in scholarships to the top participants, with the winning team awarded $10,000 in scholarships per team member.
“They’re up for some pretty huge scholarship money,” Christen said. “That’s a big drive for them to win.”