Great Outdoors: UMD’s Clean Snowmobile Team Takes 3rd in National Competition

A busted engine was no problem for this experienced group of engineering students

DULUTH, Minn. – Living in the Northland, most people have seen and heard snowmobiles buzzing through the snow during the winter months. Over at UMD, a group of students has been working hard, designing a new, cleaner sled and they’re already seeing the results pay off.

“When we first started we were just barely trying to get something to work,” said Mark Boeckman, engine team lead for UMD’s Clean Snowmobile Team.

For the last six months, around a dozen engineering students have been working around the clock.

“There’s a lot of different ideas, there’s about 10 to 15 of us that work on this throughout the year,” said team president Jack Schofield. “It really is like a team event, not one person does everything.”

The group spends more than 40 hours each week, designing, building, and testing a cleaner, more quiet snowmobile to take to competition.

“We used a turbo charger along with EGR, which is exhaust gas recirculation,” said Schofield. “Using the combination of those things we were really able to reduce emissions while also increasing performance.”

Earlier this month, the team took part in the SAE International Clean Snowmobile Challenge in Michigan, competing against 14 schools from across the country.

“You have to have a good design, but you also have to prove that it works,” added Schofield. “That’s a big part of the competition, not just saying ‘yeah we designed the snowmobile’ but we actually validated it. It actually works, it’s actually an improvement.”

Things didn’t start out so great for the guys from UMD at the competition. A busted engine set the team back and forced them to drop out of some events. “We thought we were pretty well out of it,” said Schofield. After 10 hours of repair, the team rallied and scored so well through the rest of the competition they placed 3rd overall in the internal combustion category.

“We kind of like to say we work pretty hard and that we like to get success from it, and to finally get the success after years of hard work and everyone involved,” said Boeckman. “It was really rewarding.”

The team is back on campus, showing off some new hardware; a result of all their hard work.

“It’s great working with a good team,” said Boeckman. “You learn to work with people, which is huge for the future. I can safely say that these are the best friends that I’ve ever had being on this team. You develop such a tight relationship with these guys. It’s really unforgettable.”