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Clarkson's First Robotics Team Wins First Place In Regional Competition

On Saturday, the 2004 Clarkson University Winter Knights drove their reengineered snowmobile to a top-place finish at the Society of Automotive Engineer’s (SAE) Clean Snowmobile Challenge.

The Clarkson team finished in fifth place out of 14 U.S. and Canadian universities participating in this year’s competition, held March 15-20 at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich. The team also received an award for most improved team.

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is an intercollegiate competition that requires student-engineering teams to design a snowmobile with reduced emissions and noise characteristics that equal or improve upon the performance of current snowmobiles.

This is the fourth year the Clarkson Winter Knights have competed in the challenge. The last few years the team has experienced mechanical problems, so its standout performance this year was particularly gratifying.

“I am proud of the team’s effort, hard work, and drive for success,” said Fred Stone, director of Clarkson’s SPEED program and Winter Knights advisor. “Following three years of competition difficulties, the team went back to the drawing board this year and developed a three-year strategy that focused their efforts to specific design elements to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining performance. This focused effort showed in the team’s terrific overall performance."

The Clarkson team also showcased a brand new re-engineered 2004 Arctic-Cat 660 Turbo snowmobile at this year’s challenge.

The teams are judged on a number of criteria, including fuel cost and economy, noise, emissions, acceleration, braking, cold start, and handling. The teams must also deliver written and oral presentations. The Winter Knights received high marks for noise reduction, acceleration, fuel economy, and handling.

“After just returning from competition, the team has already started working on next year’s competition, maintaining the strengths of this year’s design while improving on the weaknesses,” added Stone.

Clarkson Winter Knights team members include: Co-presidents Andrew Heiligman ’06 and Tyler Wlodyka ’05; team leaders Derek Bryl ’04 and Jesse Moss ’06; and Jeffrey Anderson ’6, Michael Foster ’04, Eric Lapp ’04, Anthony Lorence ’07, Stephen Lupi ’06, and Phillip Mitchell ’07.

Clarkson’s Clean Snowmobile Challenge team is one of the University's SPEED (Student Projects for Engineering Experience and Design) programs, which promotes multidisciplinary, project-based learning opportunities. SPEED projects involve more than 250 undergraduates annually in engineering design and analysis, fabrication, and the enhancement of professional competencies, such as budget management, effective teamwork, and communication skills. The SPEED program is one of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering hallmark initiatives promoting the “Vision of a Clarkson Education” through experiential learning by hands-on application of academic theory to real-world problems.

SPEED receives its primary financial support from Alcoa, Corning, Eastman Kodak, the General Electric Fund, and Procter & Gamble. SPEED 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 Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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