Clean Snowmobile Challenge underway

HOUGHTON — The SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge brings together student engineers to see who can build the best performing snowmobile while reducing emissions and noise.

A record number of teams are taking part in the week-long competition being held at Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center.

Keweenaw Research Center Executive Director Jay Meldrum said, “The teams look well-prepared and ready to compete. I always say ‘Come to compete, not complete’.”

The weather and trail conditions are having an impact on the competition, but they may be playing into the home team’s strength.

MTU Mechanical Engineering student Mark Brouwer said, “Our sled is really well built for these conditions. We have a secondary engine cooler on the front of the sled. It’s powered by an electric motor as well, so just in case we don’t get enough cooling from the tunnel mounted radiator from the track throwing snow on it, we got a backup electric fan.”

Michigan Tech has never won this competition and two-time defending champs University of Wisconsin-Madison is going to try and keep it that way.

UW-Madison Electrical Engineering student James Gerdes said, “We thought that we left a lot on the table last year, actually, so this year we came back and really improved our calibrations and that’s kind of what we focused on.”

High winds and unsafe trail conditions caused the Endurance Run to be postponed, but organizers say the competition will continue.