This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

UB sled freezes out competition

Published: March 24, 2005

Contributing Editor

While their peers were sunbathing on the beach during spring break, members of UB's Society of Automotive Engineers student chapter traveled to chilly upper Michigan to beat 12 competing teams and take top honors in the society's Clean Snowmobile Challenge, held at Michigan Tech University in Houghton.

In the challenge, teams of engineering students from throughout the U.S. take a stock snowmobile and re-engineer it to reduce emissions and noise, while maintaining or improving performance.


This special snowmobile developed by UB engineering students took top honors recently in the Clean Snowmobile Challenge sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The UB sled beat 12 competing teams in the contest.

"Our team's main objective was to design a marketable snowmobile that was pure excitement and environmentally conscious," said Brian Belmont, captain of the UB team.

The other UB team members are Kelly McCorry, Mike Ide, Robert Bouza, Eric Peckham, Dan Bugbee and Steve Battaglia.

UB also took the Gage Products Award for Best Fuel Economy; the Land and Sea Inc. Award for Best Performance, which is given to the team that performed best in the acceleration and objective handling events while passing noise and emission tests; and the Blue Ribbon Award for Most Practical Solution, based on the best balance between noise and emission reduction and cost.

UB and Clarkson University tied for the PCB Group Award for the quietest snowmobile.

Belmont attributed the team's overall win to developing a snowmobile that would perform according to the main criteria of the competition—reducing noise and exhaust emissions—while still performing like a stock snowmobile.

The main event in the challenge, a 100-mile endurance run, was not without incident. During the run, the UB snowmobile experienced a cracked exhaust manifold, preventing it from performing at its best.

"Unbelievably, we still won the fuel-economy event, with our sled achieving 18.2 miles per gallon," Belmont said.

The team was able to fix the exhaust manifold the next day to get the snowmobile ready for the other events.

The UB snowmobile is a Polaris Chassis that features a Honda Silverwing scooter engine. The engine was turbo charged and intercooled for added performance, and cleaner emissions were achieved by adding a catalyst to the exhaust system, along with lean fuel-injection maps. To reduce noise, the team uses a sealed hood, along with sound-absorbing material throughout the snowmobile.

The snowmobile produces 70 horsepower and its fuel economy can reach 23 miles per gallon.

In addition to enjoying their big win, the UB team members rented snowmobiles and enjoyed the trails of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where there is still plenty of snow on the ground.