Virginia Tech® home

Academic Quadrathlon

Competition is a part of college and most students are used to competing, whether for a place in a research lab, graduate school, or even just to get a better test score than the person sitting next to them in lectures. This environment and competitive drive prompts some students to come together as a team in events such as Academic Quadrathlon. The Academic Quadrathlon allows students to push themselves mentally in a way that provides a challenge without the weight or stress of a classroom setting. The inspiration behind Academic Quadrathlon to allow students to compete and showcase their skills and knowledge.  

Natalie Duncan, a faculty member in the School of Animal Sciences, acts as coordinator and advisor for the VT Academic Quadrathlon.

“The goal is to showcase how much the students have learned from their undergraduate curriculum. There is a regional level performed at individual universities, a sectional level, and a national level. Our goal for the 2022-2023 year was to make the event happen, get back to sectionals, and ultimately compete at the national level,” said Duncan.  

However, unlike most competitions, the students competing in the Academic Quadrathlon don’t have the opportunity to practice.  

“There’s no preparation; the goal is to see if you know it or don’t. They don’t get to study; they form a team and try to be as diverse as possible to cover all areas and disciplines. For the oral presentations, students were given a topic and 15 minutes to prepare a response and presentation with provided laptops. The teams then demonstrate multiple skills, including identifying different implements, reading drug labels, identifying cuts of meat, placing a standing wrap on a horse, identifying injection locations, or evaluating the body condition score of a dairy cow. The competition continues with a 100-question written exam that the team works on together and ends with a quiz bowl,” explained Duncan.  

These events are difficult, but the participating students always have fun. While everyone surely has their favorite segment or moment from the competition, Katie Kirkpatrick shared her favorite moments.  

“My favorite part of the AQ (Academic Quadrathlon) was applying the knowledge I have learned during my lifetime and during my time at Virginia Tech. Furthermore, I was awakened to how much information there is regarding animal science and how I can continue strengthening my skills,” said Katie.  

Bailey Watson, a senior in Animal and Poultry Sciences and a member of the second-placed team, shared this opinion and mentioned how important a refresher can be while in school and the field.  

“I feel the AQ is a true test of what you have learned in your classes and how well you have retained the information, or what you already know from real-world experiences. Additionally, it made me want to go back and look over some old course material! I thought the AQ was a fun event! It made me realize how much I needed to refresh my knowledge on some topics. Additionally, I really enjoyed working with my team.”  

The Academic Quadrathlon is an excellent opportunity for students to collaborate with their peers and fellow animal scientists. Furthermore, it allows students to connect and not only experience what it is like to match wits with their peers from other in, but also experience what it’s like to work with them towards a common goal. 

Article by: Noah Willis, Student Communications Assistant, School of Animal Sciences


Winning Academic Quadrathlon 'Team A' - Charleez Simcik, Jenna Marston, Katie Kirkpatrick , and Lanie White.
The 2022-2023 Academic Quadtrathlon team: Charleez Simcik, Jenna Marston, Katie Kirkpatrick, and Lanie White.
Student leading a horse off of a horse trailer.
Students identifying meats at the Academic Quadrathlon.
Student identifying bones at the Academic Quadrathlon.
Students with a sheep.



to our winning 2023-2024 Academic Quadrathlon team!

The winning Academic Quadrathlon team for 2023-2024.  Ruth Haile, Katie Powell, McKenzy Kirby, Giovanna Lungu.
The 2023-2024 winning Academic Quadrathon team: Ruth Haile, Katie Powell, McKenzy Kirby, Giovanna Lungu.
Graphic of a cow with: "They will be traveling to the Soputhern Section ASAS Conference in Kentucky January 2024!