Kettering wins SAE's 2002 Clean Snowmobile Challenge

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Kettering's snowmobile team has brought home four trophies and more than $10,000 in prize money from the Society of Automotive Engineer's (SAE) 2002 Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Kettering's team tied with the University of Idaho for first place overall. In addition, the team took three other first place awards including first in quietest machine, first in fastest machine, and first in best overall cost.

Kettering won $10,500 in prize money (up from $8,000 a year ago) at the third annual event. Again this year the Kettering team used a Toyota/Daihatsu four-stroke, three-cylinder engine. The University of Idaho also used a four-stroke machine.

Gregory Davis, associate professor of Mechanical Engineering, led his team of undergraduate Electrical and Mechanical Engineering students to victory. "Kettering has proved that a snowmobile can be designed and built cost effectively that combines environmental friendliness and yet maintains a level of performance demanded by enthusiasts," he said.

Members of the championship travel team are:

  • Ryan Beemer
  • Carl Block
  • Tod Burton
  • Jason Conwell
  • Thom Godward
  • Erin Kampman
  • Jake Maurer
  • Dave Pettinelli
  • Kyle Schwulst
  • Jeremy Taylor and
  • Matt Trainham.

The events at the competition included: emissions testing, acceleration, a cold start, handling, fuel range, sound testing, and an oral and written design presentation. The final event was a hill climb by professional snowmobile drivers to test the "driving enjoyment" level of the snowmobiles. Image removed.

Kettering's snowmobile had a 659cc turbo charged and four-stroke Daihatsu automobile engine mated to a Yamaha chassis. The engine is fuel injected and operates with a closed-loop heated oxygen sensor-based feedback control system. This provides better control of the air/fuel ratio, leading to lower emissions and higher fuel economy. Further, the system also compensates for changes in altitude. The estimated cost of converting a standard snowmobile to Kettering's environmentally friendly version is just under $1,400.

The SAE CSC2002 point system rewards the engineering teams for producing a snowmobile that is quieter, more fuel efficient, and cleaner than current trail models. The engineering challenge lies in the fact that teams are also judged on how well the sleds perform and how much fun they are to ride. "It's not easy by any means" said event organizer Bill Paddleford, a Teton County Commissioner and outdoorsman. "For college students to build a snowmobile that is clean and quiet, yet still lots of fun in the snow sounds almost impossible without any factory help. I've been amazed at what the teams have been able to produce. Their results have been excellent."

A total of 16 teams competed the CSC 2002, including:
Clarkson University
Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
Idaho State University
Kettering University
Michigan Technological University
Minnesota State University
University at Buffalo
University of Alaska-Fairbanks
University of Alberta
University of Idaho
University of Maine
University of Waterloo
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
University of Wyoming

The SAE Clean Snowmobile ChallengeTM is part of the society's Collegiate Design Series which engages teams of student engineers to find solutions to real world challenges by designing, building, and operating a vehicle within a strict set of contest rules. This competition focuses on producing snowmobiles that are cleaner, quieter, and more environmentally friendly, without significantly impacting the performance of the machine.

More information about the Society of Automotive Engineers and their student design series can be found at their web site at