John Deer

This MDP project is open for 5-7 students from different majors to participate.  This project will start in January 2015 and end in December 2015.
Enrollment in Winter 2015 and Fall 2015 is required for your participation on this project team.  Be sure to meet with your home department’s academic advisor to ensure that your schedule will allow you to participate.
Undergraduate Students:  7 Credit Hours Required (3-4 per term)

Graduate Students: 4-6 Credit Hours Required (2-3 per term)

Apply to this John Deere project if you have a passion for applying technology to one of the most tenured and fastest-advancing sectors in business. Offering a wide range of tools to protect and cultivate is critical to meet the ever-increasing demand for proper care of our planet’s land. Advance your engineering knowledge by solving this significant design challenge with us. Candidates with a career interest in advancing the Agricultural industry will be particularly energized by the challenges in this project.

During this project you will take a hands-on look into the design of the John Deere Ztrak mowers and the day of a commercial mowing operator with an end goal of improving operator comfort, efficiency, and cut quality.

During this project you will:

• Work with marketing and customers to understand what the customer is experiencing when working with these mowers to define “ride comfort”

• Research existing solutions with a goal of confirming what measurable parameters can be used to distinguish one design from another

• Work with John Deere PV&V and NVH engineers to determine what parts of the mower most influence operator comfort by creating a quantitative ride quality test plan

• Instrument the mower to collect the required data and analyze the results

• By following the test plan created, collect test data on John Deere and competitive mowers at a John Deere field site.

• Use this data to rate the mowers in different categories and analyze what designs provide the largest improvements

• Become familiar with riding mower industry standards in order to plan future designs

• Use innovation techniques and past test results to creatively come up with concepts to improve:

1. Ride Comfort

2. Mowing Efficiency

3. Cut Quality.

This project will involve travel to John Deere field events and factories.

John Deere will provide a MidZ mower for experimentation, prototype, testing, final design, and verification.

Project Success

• To succeed this project will provide John Deere with a documented and proven quantitative test plan for evaluating ride comfort on Zero Turn mowers. The project would be highly successful if this plan could also be transferred to other types of equipment.

• Provide concept design solutions that could meet cost targets and allow John Deere MidZ mowers to be best in class in terms of operator comfort without compromising efficiency or cut quality. Improvements to efficiency and sound would be secondary priorities.


• Provide a documented qualitative test plan to evaluate operator comfort for Zero Turn mowers.

• Details from competitive testing. This may include specifics of sensors, sensor locations, terrain, speed, and activities performed.

• Prioritized list of machine systems to focus design efforts on to get the highest benefits for effort

• Based on acceptable mower changes, come up with innovative design concepts to improve operator comfort, mowing efficiency, and cut quality. These designs must meet ANSI B71.4 guidelines.

• Present design concepts to engineering and marketing for evaluation

Students will have the opportunity to attend mowing school at John Deere facility. All team meetings will take place on Campus, with potential for travel to various John Deere locations. All qualified and interested team members will be interviewed for summer internship positions.

Project Sponsor Mentor

• Mentor: Terry Conning

• Champion: Mark Evans

• Project Engineers: Shirish Chobhe, Robert Dunbar

• Program Manager: Steve Dudzinski

• Product Marketing: Nick Minas

• Portfolio Planning: Lynette Sapienza


Professor Emeritus Don Chaffin

Richard G. Snyder Distinguished University Professor Emeritus,
Industrial and Operations Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering

Director Emeritus, Human Motion Simulation Laboratory (HUMOSIM), 1998-2007

Director Emeritus, Center for Ergonomics (C4E), 1982-1997



Key Skills & Project Roles

Mechanical Engineering

• Structural Design Analysis

• Vibration/Noise isolation

• Design of tests

• Test data analysis


Pre-Approved for ISD-AUTO 503 Substitution

Electrical Engineering

• Instrumentation of sensor requirements to measure and monitor what the operator is experiencing

• Measurement & Analysis of baseline mower and modified version


Human Factors & Ergonomics 

Statistical Analysis & Design of Experiment


• Human Motion Analysis


• Cost/Benefit Analysis

Since its founding in 1837, John Deere has seen a great many changes in its business, its products, its services. Change always comes with opportunity. And Deere has always been ready and willing to embrace it. Yet, through it all, John Deere is still dedicated to those who are linked to the land – farmers and ranchers, landowners, builders, and loggers. And Deere has never outgrown, nor forgotten, its founder’s original core values. Those values determine the way we work, the quality we offer, and the unsurpassed treatment you get as a customer, investor, employee.

We work every day to uphold our founder’s core values. Integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation are more than ideals we work toward. They are values we live and breathe – values found in every product, service, and opportunity we offer.

The quality of a company is expressed through the quality of its leadership. For nearly 175 years, John Deere has benefitted by strong, decisive leaders at its helm, dedicated to the core principles of integrity, quality, commitment, and innovation.

Our strategy for success

For those who cultivate and harvest the land. For those who transform and enrich the land. For those who build upon the land. John Deere is committed to your success. This commitment extends globally with a focus on six key areas – the United States and Canada, Europe, Brazil, Russia, India, and China. It’s in these areas where at least 75 percent of the world’s future growth will occur. And because of our past, our passion, and our purpose for helping you become more profitable and productive, John Deere is uniquely positioned to be the equipment supplier of choice.

As part of this project, the sponsor mentor will work with unit HR to secure internship opportunities for one or two of the students working on this project. Requirements for an internship: 1) minimum GPA of 2.8, 2) ability to work in the United States without company sponsorship, 3) successfully interview with the sponsoring engineering group. The intern positions could be located at any John Deere facility in the U.S.

Students are required to sign a Non-disclosure/Intellectual Property agreement in order to participate on this project team. Technical developments from this project will be the property of the sponsor.

Internship Information

Summer Internships available based on interview, to be scheduled immediately upon acceptance to project team in early November. Ideal candidates for the summer internship component will be students interested in a post-graduate career opportunity with John Deere.

ROUND 1 – Early Action applicants will be accepted until 11:59PM on 10/10/14
ROUND 2 – Applicants will be accepted until 11:59pm on 10/19/14