Building a lean, green snowmachine

By Amber Sandlin
Sun Star Reporter

Graduating with experience can be difficult for college students. UAF societies and organizations can help provide that much-needed experience for students. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is one of many clubs formed for engineering students, according to Michael Golub, chapter president of SAE at UAF. Thursday, Oct. 14, SAE gathered to hold try-outs for a lightweight snowmachine jockey for the SAE Clean Snowmachine Challenge.

Electrical Engineering major Craig McKenzie looks at wiring on an electrically powered snowmachine during a recruitment meeting Oct. 13, 2010. Nina Schwinghammer / Sun Star.

The SAE Clean Snowmachine Challenge was created to challenge college students to lower pollution in snowmachines, as well as design alternative methods of motion. The aim of the competition is to develop a snowmachine that is good enough for use in environmentally sensitive areas such as national parks or other unspoiled areas. The modified snowmachines must be quiet and emit less pollution than a standard snowmachine. They are also expected to be cost-effective and comfortable for the operator to drive. The intent of the competition is to design a touring snowmachine that will be ridden on groomed snowmachine trails.

Every year, the team is sent to Michigan for the competition. Golub spends a large amount of his own money on the project.

“It’s a good way for engineering students to spend some volunteer time [on a project] and get experience in engineering,” Golub said. The SAE Clean Snowmachine challenge has no handicap, so the team must find a lightweight jockey as other teams may have riders weighing as little as 100 pounds. A major weight difference in riders can make it harder to win. The winner of the competition gets their sled and one team member sent to Greenland to ride the machine in the ice covered country.

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