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  5. Engineering students win top honors for electric snowmobile

Engineering students win top honors for electric snowmobile

2011 zero-emissions sled

 The UW-Madison zero-emissions sled at the 2011 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge. Photo by John Hatch.

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There wasn’t much snow on the ground in Madison, Wisconsin, this weekend, but there was plenty in Houghton, Michigan, as a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering students continued their tradition of dominance at the 2011 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

UW-Madison took second overall and first place in the zero-emissions category. This is the fourth consecutive year the team has won that category.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers, held March 7-12 at Michigan Technological University. Engineering students from participating schools reengineer stock snowmobiles to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or boosting performance.

Advised by Mechanical Engineering Faculty Associate Glenn Bower, the UW-Madison team entered an internal combustion sled along with the victorious electric sled in the competition this year.

The ultimate goal of the zero-emissions competition is to develop sleds that will allow scientists at the North and South Poles to travel between research stations without emitting any emissions, which can skew data results.

One of the competition challenges tests how far each electric sled can go on a single charge. The UW-Madison team traveled 20.8 miles—well beyond the 12 miles achieved by the next closest sled.

Team captain Shawn Spannbauer was pleased at the competition results. “We did great all week. Everything went well,” he says. “This is a young team. It was a lot of fun.”

The team earned several competition awards, including the Society of Automotive Engineers Award for best design, the AVL Award for Best Emissions, Sensors Inc. Award for Lowest “In Service” Emissions, KRC Award for Draw Bar Pull, and CH2M Hill Polar Services Range Event Award.

Clarkson University took the top overall prize, with the University of Idaho, State University of New York at Buffalo and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville rounding out the top five.

Sandra Knisely