UW Madison, Utah State Win Clean Snowmobile Challenge at Michigan Tech

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

The University of Wisconsin at Madison won the 2006 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge internal combustion division with a strategy that stressed moderation.

"We tried to do well in everything, instead of concentrating on one or two things," said team captain Gary Diehl.

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.

This is the fourth year that Michigan Tech has hosted the Challenge at its Keweenaw Research Center.

UW Madison's four-stroke Polaris placed first in one category, receiving the Lotus Engineering and Horiba Instruments Award for Lowest Emissions, and was competitive enough in all the other events to earn top honors.

Two years ago, the university's innovative hybrid gas-electric sled also earned the team a gold, but the Badger engineers have since opted to focus on more-conventional technology.

Utah State University's electric sled won in the Challenge's new zero-emissions division. Team captain Nate Hansen was happy with the victory but is hoping for more. "It was nice to win as an electric sled, but it would really be nice to compete with the gas sleds, because we have them beat in noise and emissions," he said.

Since the second- and third-ranked fuel-powered finishers garnered nearly the same number of points, the University of Minnesota at Duluth (with 1,033 points) and Kettering University (1,031) share second place.

UM Duluth also won the International Engineering and Manufacturing (Woody's) Award for Best Acceleration and the Land and Sea Award for Best Performance.

Clarkson University, in Potsdam, N.Y., took fourth place, with the University of Maine finishing fifth. Clarkson also received the PCB Group Award for the Quietest Snowmobile, and Maine earned the BlueRibbon Coalition Award for the Most Practical Solution.

The University of Wisconsin at Platteville took three special honors, the Gage Products Award for Best Fuel Economy, the Polaris Industries Award for Best Handling and the Emitec Award for Best Value.

The Terex Corporation Award for Best Ride went to the Ecole de Technologie Superieure, of Montreal.

Utah State and Michigan Technological University each received a Society of Automotive Engineers Award for Best Design, Utah for its electric snowmobile and Michigan Tech for its fuel-powered sled.

The State University of New York at Buffalo received the Founders' Trophy for Most Sportsmanlike Conduct.

Representatives from both the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service were on hand at the awards presentations Saturday to underscore their support of the Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

"This has meant a tremendous amount to Yellowstone National Park," said Jack Evanoff, the park's environmental manager. Snowmobile emissions at the park, which have been at the heart of a major controversy, have plummeted in the seven years since the first Clean Snowmobile Challenge, he said.

"As the world's foremost provider of outdoor recreation, we have a desire for a clean, quiet experience for all of our users, including those who ride our snowmobile trail systems," said Leon LaVigne, recreation program manager for the forest service's Eastern Region. "The CSC is a real-life example of using new, creative approaches to working together toward improving the quality of a great recreational activity and, at the same time, improving environmental quality."

The Keweenaw Research Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics sponsor the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge at Michigan Tech.

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.