Ralph Shirley, P.E.

Project Engineer
Education: BS and Master Degree in Agricultural Engineering from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo and Oklahoma State University.

Ralph has a broad background in the design of agricultural tractors, related attachments and equipment.

From 1974 to 2004, Ralph worked at John Deere Product Engineering on vehicle design, drivetrain design and vehicle testing. Additional special projects included technical investigations related to product performance and vehicle safety.

Currently, he is specializing in accident reconstruction, bio-mechanical analysis and vehicle fire investigation.

Over his career, Ralph has worked on a number of projects and technical investigations. The following list illustrates the wide variety of projects that he has worked on:

Safety and Hazard Analysis
  • Vehicle Accident Investigation and Bio-Mechanical Reconstruction
    Investigated a wide variety of auto, truck, bus, off highway equipment and farm implements accidents. Work includes evaluation of vehicle damage, vehicle motion, occupant motion and potential for injury. Work has resulted in consultation and testimony as expert witness.
  • Vehicle Fire Investigation, Cause and Origin Identification
    Investigated wide variety of auto, truck, tractor and farm implement fires.
  • Product Safety Review
    Review products to identify and reduce potential hazards.
    Recommended re-design, guarding and/or warnings where appropriate
  • Mechanical Engineering
    Analysis, review, concept creation, design, recommendations and proposals.

Vehicle Design and Development
  • Tier II Update to 7000 Series Tractors
    Managed project to change cooling and exhaust packages of tractor series to meet requirements of Emissions Update.
  • 50 km/hr Tractor
    Directed a team of engineers to adapt the 7000 series tractors to travel safely at higher transport speeds. Required identification of the potential concerns of higher speed transport with large loads on highway and solutions for those concerns.
  • Telescopic Handler Design and Development
    Directed multinational team of engineers to design and test a line of Telescopic Handlers manufactured in Zweibruecken, Germany (fluent in German).
  • Small Tractor Project Management
    Directed design of 50 and 42 hp tractors to be assembled in multiple locations from components sourced all over the world.
  • Project Engineer
    Directed special design work to adopt John Deere 5000, 6000 and 7000 Series tractors manufactured in the US and Germany to be assembled in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. The designs allowed common platforms to be assembled near the market and meet special market requirements.
  • Project Engineer
    Designed and tested tractors to use rubber belts (tracks).
  • Project Engineer
    John Deere 7000 series tractor drivetrains. Directed a team of design engineers to execute the new series of modular tractor drivetrains that replaced older models and placed the company in a position to operate in the global market with product flexibility to meet changing needs.
  • Product Planning - Feasibility Study
    Multi-national strategic planning task force to determine the needs John Deere Tractors worldwide. Resulted in creation of 5000, 6000, 7000 series tractor platforms.
  • Drivetrain Engineer
    Various assignments designing and testing tractor drivetrain components including clutches, brakes, park locks, gears, synchronizers, final drives, spiral bevels, differentials.

Additional Information
  • Licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer since 1979
  • Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator
  • Certified Crash Data Retrieval Specialist (CDR)
  • Member of:
    Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
    American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE)
    National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI)
  • Awarded six patents
  • Published and presented several professional papers
  • Received three major engineering awards from professional societies
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