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03-07-2007

Clarkson Clean Snowmobile Team Receives $2,000 NSF Grant

Students at Clarkson University developing clean snowmobiles -- quiet, low-emissions machines that still smoke in the performance department -- got a boost recently, thanks to a $2,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Division of Polar Programs.

The funds are earmarked for Clarkson's Clean Snowmobile Challenge Team, one of four teams entered in the zero-emissions category at the annual SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, set for March 19-24 at Michigan Tech. The Society of Automotive Engineers event attracts teams of engineering undergraduates from across North America. The goal: design a snowmobile with lower environmental impact -- less noise and fewer emissions -- without sacrificing the performance that snowmobile enthusiasts crave.

Clarkson's Snowmobile Team is part of the University's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program.

NSF operates several research stations in remote, pristine locations in Antarctica and the Arctic, including one on the summit of Greenland's ice cap. Cleaner snowmobiles may benefit science in these places, where snowmobile emissions can interfere with data gathered on global atmospheric constituents.

The NSF donation includes a $2,000 grant to each of the four teams entering all-electric sleds in the competition: Clarkson, McGill University in Montreal, Utah State University, and the South Dakota School of Mining and Technology. Another $2,000 was given to help underwrite the Challenge.

In addition, the NSF will fund a trip for top two finishers to Greenland's Summit Station, testing their snowmobiles in field conditions.

Other schools participating in the Challenge include Kettering University, of Flint, Mich., Michigan Tech, Minnesota State University at Mankato, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the University of Idaho, the University of Maine, the University of Minnesota at Duluth, the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Wisconsin at Platteville.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge arose in part from an interest in encouraging the use of cleaner, quieter snowmobiles in public lands. Yellowstone National Park has been a major sponsor during the eight years of the competition, along with the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

Originally held near Yellowstone, in Wyoming, the Challenge is now in its fifth year at Michigan Tech.

The SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives exemplifying Clarkson's boundary spanning approach to education. SPEED promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities for more than 250 undergraduates annually. Projects involve engineering design and analysis, and fabrication. In addition, students learn real-world business skills such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communications skills. SPEED receives its primary financial support from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation with contributions from ExxonMobil and Turner Construction Company. The program was recognized with the 2001 Boeing Outstanding Educator Award and the 2002 Corporate and Foundation Alliance Award for its exceptional contributions to improving undergraduate engineering education.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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