HOUGHTON, Mich., March 22, 2004--Victory is always sweet, but for the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Saturday's win in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge was a moment to savor.

The Badgers climbed from last place in the 2003 Challenge to take the gold this year, rising a dozen places in the standings. Inspired by team members who had participated in FutureTruck automotive competitions, Wisconsin-Madison built a totally new (and probably unique) modified hybrid gas-electric engine, which included an electric motor for power assist on acceleration.

"We decided to try something completely radical, so we did a lot of work with hybrid integration," said team captain Eric Schroeder. "I'm just overwhelmed, he added. "I was here last year when we finished absolutely last and blew up our engine twice."

The Wisconsin-Madison team also received the Best Design Award, presented by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Teams from 14 U.S. and Canadian universities competed March 15-20 at MTU's Keweenaw Research Center.

This is Michigan Tech's second year hosting the event, which was organized by the Keweenaw Research Center and MTU's Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

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 then reengineer it to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or improving performance.

Michigan Tech held onto it's second place status in the Challenge rankings, despite a gas-tank failure that forced their sled out of the endurance run.

"It was a bad first day," said team captain Brian Barr. "Everybody was pretty down, but I said we have a great sled, we'll do well." And they did, earning the Quietest Snowmobile and Best Performance awards, as well as the Blue Ribbon Coalition Award for Most Practical Solution.

The University of Maine finished third and also received the Gage Products Award for Best Fuel Economy and tied with the University of Wisconsin at Platteville for the Emitec Award for Best Value.

Finishing fourth was the State University of New York at Buffalo, which also earned the Lotus Engineering and Horiba Instruments Award for Lowest Emissions. Clarkson University finished fifth.

Other specialty award winners were the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, which shares the Best Value award with the University of Maine and also earned the International Engineering and Manufacturing Braking Award.

The École de Technologie Superieure, in Montreal, earned honors in two categories, the Dana Long Manufacturing Award for Best Acceleration and the U.S. Army TACOM/National Automotive Center Award for Best Handling. The University of Waterloo received the Founders' Trophy for Most Sportsmanlike Conduct.

Volunteers from the Michigan Snowmobile Association praised the efforts of all the teams. "You are building the future of snowmobiling," MSA president Rick Brown said. "Please don't stop."

Contact Information

Media Contact: Marcia Goodrich, Michigan Tech News and Information
   (906) 487-2343; mlgoodri at mtu.edu).

Event Coordinator: Jay Meldrum, Michigan Tech Keweenaw Research Center
   (906) 487-3178; jmeldrum at mtu.edu