Brent Sampson retires from Nebraska Tractor Test Lab after 45 years

Brent Sampson is retiring after 45 years and 978 tractor tests at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab.

June 28, 2017

Lincoln, Neb. — Brent Sampson started at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab in 1976 and has been involved in 978 tractor tests, which represents 45 percent of all the tractors that have ever been tested.

Sampson graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in mechanical engineering. He wasn’t always looking for a career in tractor testing, but said he was interested in finding out where the fancy reports came from.

“I grew up on a farm and there was a time after I graduated that I was looking for a job. You could get test reports on your tractor from the lab and I thought that was good,” says Sampson. After that, he got reports on his family’s tractors as well as some of the neighbors and decided to go see the facility for himself.

“I was disappointed. They had a building over there that’s like 70 years old, but that didn’t deter me,” says Sampson. He sent in an application and waited. There weren’t any initial openings so he spent four years working on a grain drying project. He was offered the opportunity to move to the lab in 1976 and then started in the brand new building in 1980.

Sampson worked on many different tests throughout his career in the lab, including the PTO test, drawbar test, sound levels, hydraulic flow and three-point hitch. Now, he mostly works on the drawbar tests out on the track. The 1956 concrete track was replaced in 2006 because it was getting too narrow for the larger, wider tractors that were coming in for testing. Before the implementation of the new track, Sampson says they would take the wider tractors down to the local airport.

Sampson’s work in the Tractor Test Lab has taken him to places like Switzerland in 1993, to Japan, Czech Republic, Finland, Spain, Italy, Egypt and his last trip to Turkey. He has been able to travel to several places for meetings and travel across the country. Sampson says his favorite part is receiving reports from other stations around the world and being connected with all of the tractor data that’s available. He also says the tractors just keep getting bigger, fancier and a lot more electronics than they had early on.

After his retirement on June 30, 2017, Brent plans to come back and work on special projects. “This has been sort of my ongoing hobby,” Sampson says. “There’s that saying out there that if you find something you like to do, you’ll never work a day in your life and that’s kind of what I’ve been doing.”

The retirement reception for Brent Sampson will be held on June 30 from 2 – 5 p.m. in Hardin hall in the second floor lobby.

Brent Sampson
Research Engineer
Biological Systems Engineering
Writer: Gina Incontro - IANR Media