FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP - For the 13th year in a row, the Society of Automotive Engineers Clean Snowmobile Challenge will be held at Michigan Technological University, taking advantage of the snowfall in the Keweenaw.
"We have it now," Jay Meldrum, director of the Keweenaw Research Center, said of the snow. "But, it looks promising."
Seventeen "green" snowmobiles have registered to compete in the competition at the Keweenaw Research Center March 5 to 10 from various schools across the country and Canada. Five of those machines are entered into the zero emissions, electric category and 12 teams are registered in the internal combustion category.
Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
Teams of students from universities all over the continent gather at the start line of the Society of Automotive Engineers Clean Snowmobile Challenge in March 2010. This year's challenge will be March 5 to 10.
"They need to make them as safe as possible because they're dealing with such high currents of voltages," he said.
The internal combustion class will have a bigger emphasis on fuel economy this year, and the emissions and noise categories may stand as is. Today, machines are cleaner and quieter as built by the manufacturers, Meldrum said, more so than ever.
"The students still have to compete against each other to make them even more clean and more quiet and we do have some extra constituents to make them have lower levels," he said.
Throughout the entire challenge, the teams use the machines they have been improving and compete in a series of competitions.
While some of the competitions are held in the garage where the machines are housed, the snowmobiles are also taken out to the course, where they lap around a snowy loop for the win. The central idea is always to create a greener and more quiet machine than what is found on the market now.
"We use our test course here for most of the testing and the endurance test," he said. "We also go to Copper Harbor on our endurance run."
For the past few months, the teams have been working on stock snowmobiles to bring to competition.
"They got the rules in August," Meldrum said. "Many teams are bringing back modified sleds from prior years, and that's OK, but really they get about eight months to look at the rules and decide what they want to do."
Other teams in the internal combustion category along with Michigan Tech are the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the University of Wisconsin-Platteville; the University of Alaska Fairbanks; the University of Idaho; the University of Waterloo; Northern Illinois University; Clarkson University, Potsdam, N.Y.; cole de Technologie Superieure, Montreal; Kettering University (Flint); North Dakota State University and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Teams registered in the zero emissions category along with Michigan Tech are the University of Wisconsin-Madison; McGill University, Montreal; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.