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Two snowmobiles racing on track
Photos courtesy of Daniel Nehmer

University Teams Add Innovative Solutions to Improve Modern Snowmobiles Noise and Emission Levels for the 2023 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge

Posted: March 23, 2023

A total of 15 teams traveled to the World Championship Derby Complex in Eagle River, Wisconsin this past February to showcase their hard work and ready to compete in the 2023 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge with their sleds.

The SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge is an engineering design competition for undergraduate and graduate students, as a part of our University Programs. Participants re-engineer snowmobiles to make the sled cleaner, quieter, and more fuel efficient while maintaining its performance. Over the course of the competition, sleds compete in a variety of events including emissions, noise, fuel economy/endurance, acceleration, handling, static display, cold start, and design.

Snowmobile racing in competitionOnce operating over six days, the challenge was condensed to three days with the intent to modify an OEM snowmobile to where it is acceptable for use in environmentally sensitive areas, such as national parks. The competition consisted of two categories: spark-ignited (SI) and combustion-ignited (CI). Two out of the 13 universities competed with both a SI and a CI sled, while the other teams focused solely on SI.

As teams went through technical inspections, they were able to start their emissions testing, and participate in the acceleration event before leaving their sled out overnight for the next morning’s event: the cold start. All but one of the 15 sleds passed and for the first time since CI sleds were implemented in 2015, both diesel sleds were able to start and cross the finish line. The CI sleds are known to have a much harder time with the cold weather, so this was a great first for the competition.

After three days of competition, the University of Wisconsin – Plateville came out on top of the SI class and Clarkson University took first place in the CI class.

In addition to the engineering skills students exercise during the Collegiate Design Series competitions, students learn a variety of skills that will set them up for success in their future careers.

Kaley Zundel, education program specialist at SAE International said, “Students participating in any Collegiate Design Series competition gains valuable experience in exercising their engineering design skills while working on the project taking textbook theory and applying it to a real-world application; additionally, they learn firsthand team management and project management skills which really don’t get taught in curriculum these students take but is valuable for their projects’ success as well as for when they enter the workforce.”

Learn more about our university programs here.