Silent Running: Clean Snowmobile Challenge Starts March 13

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

The public is invited to check out some of the greenest snowmobiles on the planet next week as the SAE Clean Snowmobile">Snowmobile Challenge gets under way at Michigan Tech.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is the Society of Automotive Engineers' newest collegiate design competition. Fifteen teams of engineering students from across North America have taken a stock snowmobile and reengineered it to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or improving performance. This is Michigan Tech’s fourth year hosting the event.

The grand opening is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 14, at the Keweenaw Research Center, located near the Houghton County Memorial Airport. Following the ceremonies, the two all-electric sleds set out on a 10-mile range test, and the 13 fuel-powered machines begin their 100-mile endurance run, which starts at the Keweenaw Research Center track and then extends north to Copper Harbor.

The entire community is encouraged to see the sleds up close and talk with their designers at the static display, set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at the Houghton Fire Hall, located on the corner Gundlach Street and Sharon Avenue.

“This is an important part of the competition for the students,” said event organizer Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center. “They have to sell visitors on the quality of their sleds, just as they would in industry. Plus, it’s a great chance for everyone from snowmobile enthusiasts to environmentalists to learn about some of the technology that goes into the development of cleaner, quieter machines.”

The popular acceleration and handling events are set for Saturday morning, with the acceleration tests starting at 10 a.m. followed by the handling event at 11 a.m. The public is welcome to see the student drivers put these experimental snow machines through their paces on the KRC track. Wear warm clothing and boots, and be prepared to walk from the roadway to the viewing area.

Everyone is welcome to attend the awards banquet, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 18, in Michigan Tech’s Memorial Union Ballroom. Tickets are $25 and are available from Michigan Tech’s Conferences and Institutes office, 487-2263. The deadline for purchasing tickets is noon on Friday, March 17.

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.