Biological engineering senior uses farm know-how to excel at Penn State, beyond

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The son of a third-generation farmer, Tyrel Kling was raised on nearly 700 acres in New Columbia, Pennsylvania. Growing up, he was very involved in the family’s beef, poultry and grain operations.

“I had responsibilities at a young age that some of my peers didn’t have,” Kling said.

The biological engineering senior has drawn from those experiences to make the most of his Penn State education.

Early into his freshman year, Kling joined the Penn State Pullers, a group of students who work together to build the most successful pulling tractor for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers' (ASABE) International 1/4 Scale Tractor Student Design Competition. 

Kling, who serves as the group’s co-captain and treasurer, said being a member of Penn State Pullers is a great opportunity to learn more about engineering and to network with fellow Penn Staters. 

“Big companies, such as CNH, John Deere and Caterpillar, sponsor the competition, and Penn State engineering alumni work at those companies,” he said.

Last year, Kling joined the Penn State student chapter of the ASABE, and this year he was elected vice president. His leadership responsibilities include organizing events that will help to recruit members and create awareness of the agriculture industry, bring industry professionals to campus to speak with students about their experiences, and raise money for members to attend the Kentucky Farm Show in Louisville.

But perhaps the most fulfilling experience during Kling’s time at Penn State was his summer 2016 internship at Pik-Rite, a Lewisburg, Pennsylvania-based company that designs and manufactures innovative, high-quality vegetable harvesting equipment, manure spreaders, commercial waste handling tanks, and dump-truck bodies.

As a product engineering intern, Kling was involved in almost all aspects of Pik-Rite’s manufacturing, product design, and research and development. Specifically, he was charged with designing an attachment for one of the company’s manure spreaders. In his short time there, he got to be involved with the project from design to fabrication, welding to blast and paint, and to assembly.

Kling said one of the biggest lessons he took away from the internship is that you can make a product look perfect on a computer, but once you get to the shop, it might be a completely different story.

“There are almost always flaws to be found on the assembly floor,” said Kling. “I saw how much even one sixteenth of an inch matters. Luckily, I was able to go back and make changes and suggest alterations that will hopefully prolong the life of the product.”

As Pik-Rite continues to develop his idea, Kling keeps in contact with his fellow employees from time to time.

“I will forever be grateful for my internship there,” he said.

For now, Kling’s future remains uncertain as he applies to agricultural machinery companies, in the hopes of securing a full-time job after he graduates in May.

But one thing is certain: Kling will someday return to his roots.

“My goal is to work in industry for 10 to 15 years, so I can use what I learned from my Penn State engineering education,” he said. “But my family’s farm is important to me, and no matter what, I will move back someday.”

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Last Updated November 14, 2016