Society of Automotive Engineers members to compete in Clean Snowmobile Challenge

March 1, 2013

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — From March 4-9, 15 members of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s chapter of the Society of Automotive Engineers will compete in the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge. The contest takes place in Houghton, Mich., on the campus of Michigan Technological University.

Pioneer Clean Snow, as the CSC team calls themselves, will compete with a modified 600 Ski-Doo E-TEC. All modifications taken into account, the machine is worth $15,000, according to Pioneer Clean Snow Captain Stephen Carrico, a junior mechanical engineering major from Rhinelander, Wis. “The goal of the competition is to create a clean, quiet, and fuel efficient snowmobile,” he said.

Each modification to the sled was made to prepare for one of the weeklong competition’s many events, which are designed test different aspects of the competing machines. Several events test sleds’ fuel economy and emissions levels both on the trail and in a lab. There are events testing noise level, acceleration, handling, and even a cold-start contest in which snowmobiles left out in the cold all night have to start without a problem.

“We put on a flex fuel sensor that calculates for different fuel; a big wheel kit and a belt line to make the drive line more efficient, so it takes less force to move; a catalytic converter, which cleans exhaust – that’s an important part; sound foam and a muffler to reduce noise,” Carrico rattles off easily, obviously thoroughly familiar with the sled he and his teammates have worked on all year in their shop on the first floor of the Engineering Hall.

It is essential however, that each team member knows the sled inside and out.  “In the static display competition, we’ll have to answer questions about our sled,” said Carrico. “We have to know what we’ve changed about it, why each change was made, and we have to show testing that backs that up.”

But it is the 100-mile endurance event, a test of sleds’ fuel economy, that the team is anticipating the most. “Last year we took first in fuel economy,” said Carrico, “So we’re hoping to repeat that.”

Choosing the chapter members who will make the trip to Michigan was no challenge, said Carrico. “They put time in at the shop,” he said. “They earned their spot. If something breaks, we have 15 guys there that can help fix it.”

The CSC is by no means a vacation. “It’s a networking opportunity,” said Carrico. “You meet people in the industry, and they love to see you involved, especially in SAE. They know what it takes to be a member. They know what it takes to do what we do.”

Contact: Stephen Carrico,

Written by: Jacob Reecher, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194,


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