|Clean Snowmobile Challenge Kicks Off March 14
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|March 11, 2005--The SAE clean">Clean Snowmobile challenge">Challenge comes to Michigan Tech next week, March 14-19. Thirteen teams of college students from across North America will put their sleds to the test, and any one could be a prototype for the future of snowmobiling.|
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.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison is bringing a beefed-up version of the gas-electric design that won last year's challenge. "The UW hybrid is bigger and better than last year," says Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center. "Michigan Tech has built a new sled, and the University of Idaho is back with a two-stroke."
McGill University is bringing an all-electric, battery-powered snowmobile, and other schools are expressing interest in applying that technology to snowmobiles. "Next year, we hope to have a zero-emissions class," Meldrum said, so all-electric sleds can compete on an even footing.
The competition winds up Saturday, March 19, with acceleration and handling events on the Keweenaw Research Center test track, near the Houghton County Memorial Airport.
The public is invited to come by and watch the sleds in action Saturday. The acceleration event starts at 10 a.m., with the handling event beginning at 11 a.m. and ending at noon. Visitors are advised to wear boots and, of course, warm clothing.
You can also get a look at the snowmobiles and talk with student engineers later on Saturday at Michigan Tech. The entries will be on display outside the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Building from 2 to 4 p.m.
On Tuesday, the entries will compete in a 100-mile endurance run, starting with laps around a KRC track and then heading north to Copper Harbor.
"The trail is wonderful," Meldrum said. "All we need is for it to stay cold. Conditions for the challenge now are just fine."
The SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge is sponsored by the Keweenaw Research Center and Michigan Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. For more information, visit http://www.mtu.edu/snowmobile.