Clean Snowmobile Team Wins Annual Challenge Founder’s Trophy
In the first week of March 2015, the University of Idaho Clean Snowmobile team returned from a grueling weeklong annual competition in Houghton, Michigan, where the average temperature was 10 degrees Fahrenheit and this year’s snowfall is still rising above 170 inches. This year’s international competition included 22 teams from the U.S., Canada, and even Finland.
The Vandal engineering team has been competing in the SAE International Clean Snowmobile Challenge (CSC) for the past 15 years. In nine of those years, the Vandal team has placed in the top three overall positions, winning over 50 awards in total, and taking first place three times in 2002, 2003 and 2007.
In 2015, year UI accomplished what no other school has done in the 15-year history of the competition. For the third time the Vandal team was awarded the Bill Paddleford Memorial Award for Most Sportsmanlike Conduct, also known as the “Founder’s Trophy” or “Paddle.” Named after challenge co-founder, Teton County, Wyoming, commissioner Bill Paddleford, whose goal was to set college engineering students to the task of creating cleaner and quieter snowmobiles and in turn address years of controversial sled use in Yellowstone National Park. The sportsmanlike trophy winner is based on votes by other CSC teams. UI also won the “Paddle” in 2007 and 2011.
“The ‘Paddle’ has been a white whale of sorts for my tenure here at UI,” said Dillon Savage, CSC team member and senior mechanical engineering major. “To understand what it means to get this award you have to understand the culture that the CSC has developed and the culture of our Idaho team. Every team wants to beat you at their best. At competition, you talk with other teams, see their innovation and understand the sleepless nights that went into developing their snowmobile. The literal blood and sweat that goes into these designs. The quirk with all of this is every team is more than willing to share every spare part in their trailer to make sure you will run and compete against them. This award is one of the accomplishments I am most proud to put on my resume. It is a true team accomplishment.”
The Vandal team members’ dedication to the spirit of the CSC competition and their peers helped earn them the respected award.
"On multiple occasions the Vandal team stayed late helping other teams even when they could have left early,” said Zak Parker, captain of the team from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. “They are always willing to lend a hand, lend out tools, and their expertise. They make the competition a more relaxing and fun place to be."
“We are very proud of our team,” said Joe Law, UI College of Engineering’s associate dean for undergraduates. “Winning the Most Sportsmanlike award speaks highly of the team’s work ethic, the hands-on experience they have developed and their commitment to professionalism.”
The Vandal team’s high standard of sportsmanship exemplifies the winning tradition the team has nurtured and established over the past fifteen years.
“We know that many teams have problems during competition,” said Crystal Green, CSC team member and senior mechanical engineering major. “Anything we can do to help them fix that, the better. We don’t want to watch another team fail over something we could have done to help them. There are a bunch of great teams at competition doing all they can for other teams. It is a value our former advisor, (UI emerita faculty member) Karen Den Braven instilled in us about the competition. She always said, ‘If you only come home with one award, make sure it’s the Paddleford.’”
Overall the Vandal CSC team placed fifth this year largely due to disqualifying emissions scores. Despite this, in addition to the Founder’s Trophy, the team drove away from the competition winning the best handling award, sponsored by Polaris, and the award for best engine design, sponsored by global automotive parts manufacturer Mahle, which was accompanied by a $500 prize.
Article by Rob Patton, College of Engineering