Trine student pulls dream job

April 24, 2024

By Ian Hoffman
Communication ’26

Brenten RodgersFor many people, working their dream job in their favorite field is something they may have to wait years to do. Some will never get to that point at all. 

Trine University Design Engineering Technology (DET) senior Brenten Rodgers, however, will obtain that dream immediately upon graduating in May when he starts his position as a Technical Sales Engineer for Salenbien Performance and Apex Turbo.  

Salenbien makes parts for tractor-pulling engines, while Apex Turbo provides turbochargers for the tractors as well as other high-performance vehicles. 

Rodgers’ family farmed before he was born. His dad raised dairy cows and his mom raised horses. Growing up near a farm, and with a grandfather that did some pulling on the side, an interest in the field of tractor pulls was a no-brainer.  

Brenten noted that he has attended tractor pulls since he was born. His earliest memory came at age 2 at the Sanilac County Fair in Sandusky, Michigan. 

The sled, which is what tractors and trucks pull, broke down before the conclusion of the event. It was around 2 a.m. when his mom, Erica, called Brenten’s father, who answered and said, “Erica, we will not leave. Justin and Caleb (Brenten’s brothers) are asleep on the bleachers and Brenten is wide awake.” 

From that night forward, “My dad and I attended every pull we could,” said Rodgers, including the National Tractor Pulling Championships in Bowling Green, Ohio. 

Brenten RodgersBeing involved in the pulling industry for as long as he has allowed Rodgers to meet some legends of the sport. These include David and Joe Batliner, who own the Superhick Pulling Team. They compete in the grand national super farm division with their 8160 Massey Ferguson called the Superhick. 

Brenten worked for them starting in 2014 in multiple different roles, including pit crew, detailer and occasionally helping Joe as a crew chief. His main interest, unsurprisingly, was the mechanical side, which is why he went on to pursue a DET degree at Trine. 

“I really enjoy the mechanical side of it (pulling) and making the motor make the horsepower you would not see in the fields,” he said. “Engineering is so advanced and interesting; I could not get enough.” 

This interest in the sport and a thirst for knowledge allowed Brenten to land his current position. He met with a member of the team at Apex Turbo at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis in December. He was originally there to walk the show as part of his senior design project, but this event would help him land his current position, which he accepted in February.

During his time at Trine, Brenten has learned practical skills in programs like SolidWorks, CNC machining and geometric dimension and tolerance. He also has learned many soft skills like communication, time management and reflecting and growing from past experiences. 

The most important skill he learned, however, was from Prof. Roberta Gagnon.  

“Prof. Roberta Gagnon has had one of the biggest impacts on me. She will not give you the answer in black and white. She makes you really work with your team, define the problem, a plan of action, solve it and work together,” he said, 

He is also very thankful for his father, Brian, and the Batliners. He said, “Without [them] I would not be able to start this job in June.” 

He is also extremely thankful for Deena and Ryan Salenbien, the owners of Salenbien Performance and Apex Turbo, for giving him the opportunity to find a job he enjoys in a career he is very passionate about. 

Brenten is doing something everyone in life hopes to accomplish: living their dream.  

“I have been to just about any tractor pull on this side of the Mississippi. I have traveled the NTPA (National Tractor Pullers Association) points circuit, played college football, and am about to walk across the stage to get my degree,” he said.  

As for his future, Brenten has two main goals: He hopes to build a pulling team to hire as many young crew members as he can to give back to the same way his dad and the Batliners did for him, and to own a business that makes high-performance engine blocks, parts and other components for racing and tractor pulling. 

While that may be in the distant future, Brenten is excited. 

“I have a lot of work, learning, and experience to learn before I reach my end goal,” he said, “It’s a big goal, but I will earn it and do it.” 

News Information


Brenten Rodgers
Technical Sales Engineer, Salenbien Performance/Apex Turbo
BSDET 2024

News Story Type

Trine-Built Story

Read More

All News
Elayna Hasty

Trine graduate honored for anti-bullying work

June 6, 2024

A recent Trine University graduate was named as one of six recipients of a national award honoring those who work to create a kinder, more inclusive and more accepting world.

Alexandra Davidson

Space for everyone

June 4, 2024

Alexandra Davidson did not have a good fit at the school she was attending. The Pennsylvania native decided to transfer to Trine at the end of her sophomore year.

Chloe Moyers

‘Trine has become home’

June 4, 2024

As a first-generation student, Chloe Moyers said financial aid played a big role in her decision to attend Trine University.