Clarkson, Kettering and UW-Platteville take top honors in 'clean' snowmobile competition

Publish Date: 
Mar 27, 2012

Three U.S. universities have won awards for developing clean snowmobile technologies during the recent SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

Clarkson University of Potsdam, N.Y., Kettering University of Flint, Mich., and The University of Wisconsin-Plateville took first, second and third place honors, respectively, in the annual fuel efficiency competition.

UW-Plateville also won the Gage Products Co. award for best overall fuel economy solution, achieving 19.57 mpg during the competition’s Endurance Run event.

"The SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a great way for college students to apply classroom knowledge to the real-world challenges they will face in the future," said Dan Finkiewicz, president and chairman of Gage Products. Gage is a supplier of test fuels, paint solvents and paint-system recycling products, and has been a Clean Snowmobile Challenge sponsor for 10 consecutive years.

"Gage blends the fuels used for our indoor lab emissions tests and all of the other outdoor events," said Jay Meldrum, lead competition organizer for the Clean Snowmobile Challenge. The Ferndale-based company also provides alternative fuels to participating college and university teams.

Held in Michigan since 2002, the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge is hosted by Michigan Tech's mechanical engineering department and the school's Keweenaw Research Center. The event, an engineering competition for SAE student members, this year attracted more than 200 student competitors from colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada (see below for list).

The SAE competition challenges student teams to re-engineer existing snowmobiles to achieve improved fuel economy, lower emissions and reduced noise levels without sacrificing performance. Schools entered in this year's competition competed in a variety of events rating emissions, noise, fuel economy, endurance, acceleration, handling, static display, cold start and various design factors.

“The intent of the competition is to develop a snowmobile that is acceptable for use in environmentally sensitive areas such as our National Parks or other pristine areas,” according to SAE. “The modified snowmobiles are expected to be quiet, and emit significantly less unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide than current production snowmobiles, without significantly increasing oxides of nitrogen emissions. The modified snowmobiles are also 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.”

Schools that participated in this year's competition included: University of Alaska, Fairbanks; University of Buffalo in New York; Clarkson University, Ecole De Technologie Superieure in Montreal; University of Idaho in Moscow; Kettering University; McGill University in Montreal; Michigan Technological University, Houghton; North Dakota State University in Fargo; Northern Illinois University in DeKalb; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City; University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ont.); University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

Further details about the 2012 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge may be found at or

Posted by Mary Slepicka