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[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/snowmobile2006 .jpg]
Unseasonably warm temperatures and short snowfall this winter haven't deterred Clarkson University's SAE Clean Snowmobile team, the Winter Knights, from gearing up for what team members hope will be another successful competition.
This year, the Society of Automotive Engineers-sponsored Clean Snowmobile ChallengeTM will be held once again in Kennesaw, Mich., at Michigan State University, March 13-18. Sixteen teams have preregistered for the event.
The intercollegiate engineering design competition challenges engineering students to re-engineer an existing snowmobile for improved emissions and noise while maintaining or improving the performance characteristics of the original snowmobile. The modified snowmobiles are also expected to be cost-effective.
Joining the Winter Knights this year, is Clarkson's Electric Knights team. The new team, headed by sophomore Jessica Swinchoski, will be designing a zero-emissions electric snowmobile.
"We face some unique problems building an electric snowmobile," explains Swinchoski. "Electric motors and batteries made for use in cars and other electronics aren't made for snowmobiles, not to mention that batteries aren't as efficient in cold temperatures. Still, we believe our project is a step in the right direction toward minimizing our dependence on gasoline."
The Winter Knights Clean Snowmobile team is part of Clarkson University's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program, which promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 250 undergraduates annually. SPEED projects involve engineering design and analysis, fabrication and the enhancement of professional competencies such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communication skills. The SPEED program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives promoting the "Vision of a Clarkson Education" through experiential learning by hands-on application of academic theory to real-world problems.
PHOTO CAPTION: Clarkson's SAE Clean Snowmobile team, the Winter Knights, recently headed to Cranberry Lake to test drive their re-engineered snowmobile in preparation for national competition later this month.