The recently-concluded SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, hosted again by Michigan Technological University, is an event most of us have heard of, but too few really understand.
For several days last week, teams of engineering students from universities throughout the U.S. and Canada have been putting their experimental sleds through grueling lab testing and even more rigorous outdoor events in rugged winter weather of the Keweenaw.
Thirteen teams competed in the internal combustion category while seven took park in the electric Zero-Emission competition. The latter is particularly intriguing as these are sleds the general public will never see, for the most part. These snowmobiles' primary purpose is to carry sensitive equipment for Antarctic research, where the lack of exhaust and other emissions is imperative.
Consumers, on the other hand will certainly be the beneficiaries of the innovations which were on display in the internal combustion category.
In simple terms, the teams take stock snowmobiles and make them cleaner, quieter, faster and better.
The challenge does more than provide a gateway for snowmobile innovations. It is an extremely powerful learning tool for the young engineers who spend the week in the Copper Country.
It is also a showcase for Michigan Tech, which has become the permanent sponsor of the event at the Keweenaw Research Center.
For the community in general, the Clean Snowmobile Challenge is an economic boost in what is often a dead time of the year. And, more importantly, its give us a chance to "put our best foot forward."
To show off what we have and to offer an invitation to come back for more.
Congratulations to Jay Meldrum and all involved in this year's very successful challenge. They bend over backwards to offer the local community an opportunity to get in on the excitement of the competition.
Here's hoping more and more people continue to take advantage of that opportunity.