History of SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge...

In the fall of 1998, Teton County Commissioner Bill Paddleford and Environmental Engineer Dr. Lori Fussell joined forces to work toward a common goal...the reduction of noise and emissions from snowmobiles without the sacrifice of performance.

In the spring of 1999, SAE International (formerly Society of Automotive Engineers) joined Paddleford, Fussell, and a Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based Advisory Board to organize a new Collegiate Design Series competition...the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

In the summer of 1999, seven universities from Canada and the United States accepted used snowmobiles and the challenge to modify the snowmobiles for rigorous evaluation in the categories of emissions, noise, performance, design, fuel economy, and cold start. The teams had less than six months to complete their task.

In March 2000, the first annual SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, the SAE CSC2000, was held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Student participants astounded spectators with their technical innovation. Notable achievements included a greater than 99.5% reduction in hydrocarbon emissions, a fuel economy of 27.2 miles/gallon (compared to the control snowmobile's 12.2 miles/gallon), a full-acceleration sound level of just 66 dBA, and a successful performance in the hill climb.

In 2003, the challenge moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where it is hosted by the Keweenaw Research Center (KRC), a research arm of Michigan Technological University still to date. Each year there is a new twist or underlying theme in the rules to keep the competition fresh. Since the program’s inception, the numbers of progress made are real. Fuel economy for snowmobiles have increased more than 100% increasing to more than 22 mpg over previous standard of 10 mpg; the emissions targets have tightened by 50%. And with the use of ethanol, teams must comply with flex-fuel automotive standards in order to recalibrate their engines as well as measure the ethanol content on the fly. New in 2016 saw a development of a diesel class being added to the existing internal combustion and electric zero emission classes.

Every year universities from across the upper United States and Canada register to compete in this event. The challenge has had a positive impact on the snowmobile industry, proving that snowmobiles can be made clean and quiet.