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  5. UW-Madison engineering students win 2013 Clean Snowmobile Challenge

UW-Madison engineering students win 2013 Clean Snowmobile Challenge

Mike Solger drives the team's snowmobile on a test run

Team captain Mike Solger drives the team's snowmobile on a test run. Photo: Courtesy of Michigan Technological University.

A group of UW-Madison College of Engineering students took first place in the internal combustion division of the SAE 2013 Clean Snowmobile Challenge. The win was the team's fifth in the 14-year history of the competition.

The Society of Automotive Engineers competition, held at the Michigan Tech University Keweenaw Research Center March 4 through 9, challenges engineering student teams to reduce noise and emissions in stock vehicles while maintaining performance and controlling costs.

UW-Madison Clean Snowmobile Team captain Mike Solger says this year’s team started with a four-stroke Ski-Doo Ace snowmobile, selected as a solid foundation on which to make improvements, for an all-around solid final product. “We added a turbocharger and engine controls, which allows us to maintain performance and decrease our emissions and make it quieter, as well,” he says.

The team was well positioned to take advantage of a new rule allowing vehicles to switch between “economy” and “performance” modes. “We’ve been using our own engine control unit with student-developed code for quite some time,” says Solger.

The team also won the Blue Ribbon Coalition award for the most practical solution to a problem and received bonus points for requiring no maintenance on fuel, oil, exhaust or other systems after the start of the week-long testing regimen.

Solger says that by building on a solid foundation, the students saved a lot of extra work later. “We focused on trying to design it as best as we possibly could before we started testing,” he says.

The team is proud of its win, and Solger credits much of the team’s success to its advisors. “They were crucial to our success and we are grateful for their help.” 

Christie Taylor