The Kettering University Clean Snowmobile team finished in ninth place at the Clean Snowmobile Challenge on March 7-8 at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. In 2015, the Kettering team finished second in the same competition.
“We had a young team this year,” said Team Leader Alex Rath ‘17. “We had some issues with our engine leading up to the competition and did not have enough time to adequately test the sled and work out the kinks before going to the competition.”
Despite the overall disappointing finish, Kettering excelled in a number of categories. They took first in Cost and Subjective Noise and placed second in In-Service Emissions, In-Service Fuel Economy and Objective Noise. The team was also awarded the Enovation E-Controls Award and the “Most Practical Winner” award that measures the cost versus performance of the snowmobile.
The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is an annual competition through SAE International, hosted by Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center. The events’ tests range from a 100-mile endurance run to oral presentations to noise and emissions measurements. Students from across the globe compete in three categories: internal combustion, diesel utility class and zero emissions. Kettering’s team competed in the internal combustion category. The University of Wisconsin-Madison won the internal combustion portion of competition for the second year in a row.
“We are in the process or re-evaluating our entire operation,” Rath said. “We are considering a couple of big changes including moving to a different platform or significantly upgrading our current one.”
Next year, the Kettering team is also hoping to start building earlier in the year which will allow them more time to calibrate the engine and test the sled. Currently, the team is made up of eight students and that’s a number they would like to see grow in order to diversify the skills and expertise of the participants and enhance performance.
“We didn’t do enough testing ahead of time,” Rath said. “Next year, we are going to get the sled running earlier so we can start testing and calibrating the engine as well. With better preparation, our performance will definitely improve next year.”