Student Organization Spotlight: SAE Clean Snowmobile Team

Our SAE CleanSnowmobile Team is gearing up for its annual national competition in Houghton, Michigan.  At the competition, the team’s snowmobile will be run through a series of tests to be judged on its mechanical use, environmental harm, and even marketability.   Some of the tests include a 100 mile endurance run done by a team member, a design presentation in front of a panel of industry judges, and even a cold-start event where the sled is left out overnight and then must be started and driven 100 feet within 30 seconds.  A few of the team’s members: senior Industrial Management Technology major AJ Martineck, senior Mechanical Engineering major Kyle Jackson, and junior Mechanical Engineering major Rich Stueber, sat down to talk with us about all things snowmobile.

Some of the team at CEET’s Welcome Back Picnic 
So what exactly do you do as a team?
Kyle: We take [snowmobiles] and make them run on a new biofuel, which this year is going to be a mix between an isobutanol alcohol and gasoline.  We also have to make them quieter to reduce sound pollution, make them not leak anything, and we have to make them still ridable and easy to use.
AJ: Making them cleaner but still comparable to if they were from a factory.  People still want to have fun on [snowmobiles] so it has to be the best of both worlds.

What got you involved with the team?
AJ: What got me wanting to be on the team is to learn more about snowmobiling because I’ve been riding on them forever but haven’t been working on them the entire time.  So this just allows you to learn everything about it.
Kyle: At the time I was looking, it looked like it was going to be a lot of hands-on and motor work and that’s one of the areas I’m looking to go into after graduation.
Rich: I actually heard about it here on a tour in 2009 with my high school, so I knew about it and then when I started going here I just looked it up.
What’s your favorite part of being a part of the team?
AJ: We get to take something we all enjoy doing and kind of further it because they’re known as “dirty machines” and we clean them up.
Kyle: We get to take things we learn in the classroom add-on to it, and apply it to the real world.
Rich: It’s kind of a cool teambuilding thing; it has to do with school but is fun at the same time.
Past year’s competitions have ended in unforeseen engine failures and even fires.  How are you better preparing for this year?
The team working on a snowmobile
AJ: We’ve dug more in depth to see what kind of problems other people with our same snowmobiles have encounters so we’ve kind of learned from that, how to check for them, so we’re pretty much building off of last year. 
Rich: A lot of what we do involves tuning of the motor and making sure it’s running as it should and not going to blow up or light on fire. Our goal really is to finish.  We’ve had a lot of problems in the past and our tentative goal is to be able to complete all events and still have a running sled.  We’re hoping for a top five finish and to be competitive again.
How does the team help you professionally?
Kyle: It gives you some skills you wouldn’t learn in the classroom.  We do engine-dyno tuning and testing and emissions testing which is a big thing in the automotive area right now.  This actually gives me a basic hands-on knowledge for how to use them. 
AJ: When we’re at competition, all the major companies from industry are there to talk to us and learn from us and we learn from them.  We do a lot of networking there so we meet a lot of people. Our contact from Polaris will be there to help us with anything we need.  They’re more than willing to help us out with jobs, internships, anything we want.
The team is fundraising for their competition and you can help them by donating at their GoFundMe website.  If you want more information about our SAE Clean Snowmobile team, you can visit their Facebook page or email team president, Rich. 

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