Tech Takes Best Design in Clean Snowmobile Challenge

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Michigan Tech's Clean Snowmobile Team nabbed the Society of Automotive Engineers Best Design Award in the 2006 Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is the Society of Automotive Engineers' newest collegiate design competition. Teams of engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and reengineer it to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or improving performance. The weeklong competition concluded Saturday with an awards banquet at Michigan Tech.

The best-design award is based on the team's performance in the oral presentation, static display and written paper categories. Team captain Matt Prusak was pleased with the honor, but expects that Michigan Tech's sled will undergo some major changes next year.

"We had a sled that from a design standpoint was very good," he said, but was handicapped by a Honda engine that was too big for the purposes of the Challenge. "Next year, we're looking at a turbo-charged four-stroke."

Michigan Tech finished sixth in the Challenge, the same rank as in 2005, but with a better snowmobile. "We fixed a number of problems from last year," said mechanical engineering assistant professor Bernhard Bettig, the team's advisor. "We're getting better, but all the other teams have improved, too."

Teams that are doing the best have been using stock equipment, and that will be Michigan Tech's direction in 2007, he predicted. "We'll use a whole new strategy."

This is the fourth year that Michigan Tech has hosted the Challenge at its Keweenaw Research Center, which sponsors the event along with the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Steve Daum, SAE's manager of collegiate programs, said it just keeps getting better.

"This is one of SAE's leading competitions, and from our standpoint, it's brilliantly run," he said. "Event coordinator Jay Meldrum does a fantastic job of organizing it, and we really appreciate the support we get from the university."

The quality of the entries keeps going up as well. "Every year, the students watch what the other students are doing, take those ideas home and try to improve on them," Daum said. "The CSC just keeps getting better and harder."

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.