Kettering’s sled brings home the gold

Mar 12, 2014

Competition was fierce, but Kettering University’s SAE clean snowmobile team placed first at the 2014 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge with a four-stroke gasoline engine.

Kettering University’s SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) clean snowmobile team placed first at the 2014 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge at Michigan Tech with a four-stroke gasoline engine.

“We’re ecstatic,” said team leader Matt Birt. “This is our first win at Michigan Tech, and we couldn’t be happier.”

The competition was fierce, but Kettering’s team triumphed in several award categories: the PCB Group Award for the Quietest Snowmobile; the BlueRibbon Coalition Award for the Most Practical Solution, which balances cost with noise and emissions reduction; and the Emitec Award for Best Value, which incorporates cost, fuel economy and performance. In addition, Kettering’s team took home the new MacLean-Fogg Cup, a traveling trophy sculpted and cast in bronze by Michigan artist Sergio DeGiusti.

The team also placed first in Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, first in Oral Presentation, first in the Noise event, had the best fuel economy among gasoline-powered snowmobiles, and had the lowest emissions among gasoline-powered snowmobiles.

Kettering’s team relied on a simple, light Skidoo sled armed with a turbocharged lean-burn Miller cycle powertrain featuring a Rotax 600 ACE base engine. “And we achieved low noise in our economy mode through an electronic throttle,” said Birt.

In the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, engineering students in the internal combustion category take a stock snowmobile and re-engineer it. Their aim: to reduce emissions and noise and increase fuel efficiency while preserving the riding excitement demanded by snowmobile enthusiasts.

Advances like these are critical to the future of snowmobiling, said Art Jeffers, acting forest supervisor of the Huron-Manistee National Forest, who represented the US Forest Service at the Challenge. “Snowmobile emissions and noise reduction are central to the free enjoyment of public lands and to minimizing user conflict,” he said. “The snowmobiling industry and the clubs have made great strides, and with their sponsorship, the Challenge has been a great way to move the technology forward.”

Dan Hancock, Kettering alum and the president of SAE, recognized the value of the Challenge to the team members, noting that it hones skills that are sought after by employers. “Industry knows the value of people who’ve been through these experiences,” he said.

View the original article by Marcia Goodrich on Michigan Tech’s website.
Watch a video from the competition.
Visit Kettering’s SAE Clean Snowmobile Facebook page.
For more information on the Challenge, visit www.mtu.edu/snowmobile.
More information on competition rules.