The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) holds the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, an engineering design competition, in Michigan in the March of each year. The competition challenges college and university student members from around the world to modify an existing snowmobile to reduce noise and emissions. The teams compete against one another in a variety of events including noise, fuel economy, emissions, acceleration, handling, static display and cold start, as well as through oral and written presentations of their chosen designs.
The competition is divided into two categories of snowmobile, internal combustion engine and zero emissions. The internal combustion engine category challenges students to develop a snowmobile which can be used in environmentally sensitive areas. The redesigned sled should emit significantly less unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide without significantly increasing oxides of nitrogen emissions, while being quiet, cost-effective and comfortable. The zero emissions category challenges students to design an electric, or zero emissions, snowmobile which can be used at the Summit Station in Greenland, where research is underway on the chemicals present in the Greenland Ice Cap. Students must overcome the challenges of range and performance to provide researches with the transportation necessary to reach remote areas.
The University of Maine competes in the Internal Combustion Engine category with a modified 2007 Yamaha Phazer.