A record number of 20 teams have registered for the SAE 2011 Snowmobile Challenge, sponsored by the snowmobile manufacturers along with other snowmobile supporting businesses, set for March 7-12th at Michigan Technological University.
Held at the University’s Keweenaw Research Center, the Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and re engineer it.
The snowmobiles will compete in a variety of events including emissions, noise fuel economy/endurance, acceleration, handling, static display, cold start and design.
The University snowmobiles are expected to be cost-effective and comfortable for the operator to drive. The intent of the competition is to design a touring snowmobile that will primarily be ridden on groomed snowmobile trails. The use of unreliable, expensive solutions is strongly discouraged! Modern snowmobiles are engineered to meet the current standards for noise and emissions. Teams are expected to add innovative solutions for improving on performance of the base sled that they start with. Design judges (written and oral) will be looking for innovations and incorporating that into their scores.
An objective of the competition is to improve on fuel economy. In addition to the Endurance Event, fuel economy will be evaluated in the In-Service and Lab Emissions Events. Additional weighting in the overall scoring is given to fuel economy in the competition.
The minimum performance expectations for a trail snowmobile are set by the rules as a sled that by design will go 100 miles without refueling and can attain a trail speed of 45 miles per hour on a smooth trail. Additionally they should be able to traverse 500 feet in 12 seconds or less. Designs that do not have a reasonable expectation of achieving these requirements will be disqualified.
Students will be trying to reduce friction and improve efficiency of the entire drive train.
This year, zero emissions competition is adapting to better reflect the potential needs of the battery-powered sled market. This year, they will have their own event, pulling a load quickly over a one- or two-mile track. Battery powered snowmobiles are used primarily for research in remote arctic sites, where scientists measure traces of pollution. “This was driven by the National Science Foundation, which helps sponsor the event,” said Meldrum. “They want a machine that can haul a lot of stuff back and forth to a research site.”
Entrants in the internal combustion division are Clarkson University of Potsdam, N.Y., Ecole de Technologie Superieure of Montreal, Kettering University of Flint, Michigan Tech, North Dakota State University, Northern Illinois University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the Universities of Alaska-Fairbanks, Idaho, Maine, Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin-Platteville, and Waterloo of Ontario.
Teams in the zero emissions division are Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan Tech, Clarkson, Alaska-Fairbanks, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, North Dakota State University, and McGill University of Montreal.
The snowmobile manufacturers are major sponsors of the event. We encourage state and provincial associations to support their local universities in this great competition.
More information is available from the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Michigan Tech Clan Snowmobile Challenge site and the Keweenaw Research Center www.mtukrc.org/.