The University of Wisconsin at Madison won the 2006 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge” (internal combustion division) with a strategy that stressed moderation. “We tried...

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 Badger Team Captain Gary Diehl, a senior engineering student at Madison. “Our Polaris snowmobile remained pretty close to stock. We switched some suspension components and changed the intake setup, but we didn’t touch the engine. It was still the stock Polaris engine.”

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. Categories on which teams and their sleds are judged include a design paper, the static display of the sled, multiple handling tests, fuel economy, acceleration, noise, emissions, cold starting, cost and vehicle weight. Teams try to operate within budgets that prohibit the use of costly materials or operating systems.

The competition was held March 13-18 at the Michigan Tech Keweenaw Research Center, just north of Houghton, Michigan. 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.

The Polaris FS engine in the winning sled is the same engine used in Polaris FS production snowmobiles such as the 2007 FS Touring. The second- and third-place teams from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and Kettering University, respectively, used Polaris sleds with turbocharged FST 4-strokes.

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.

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

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 Keweenaw Research Center and the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics sponsor the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan.

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