Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, with funding from General Motors Co. (GM), Virginia Tobacco Commission and the university itself, will establish a $14 million tire research and test facility at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) in nearby Alton, Va.
Virginia Techas the university is knownexpects the National Tire Research Center (NTRC) to generate more than $12 million annually in testing and research revenue within five years, create up to 183 jobs in the local economy by 2020 and open up new research and teaching opportunities for Virginia Tech faculty.
The facility is a partnership involving the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, GM, Virginia Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), the Southside Virginia community and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Relations Revitalization Commission.
GM and the Tobacco Commission will provide $5 million each, while Virginia Tech will contribute $4 million.
We believe that this national research center will enhance and expand areas of automotive research, and create tremendous economic activity in southside Virginia. said Virginia Tech President Charles Steger.
It will also develop new products that can save energy and improve the safety of motorists around the world. This effort is yet one more example of how our research can pay huge dividends for our communities and businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.
Southside Virginia has an economy traditionally based in furniture and clothing manufacturing, tobacco farming and motorsports, the university said, but motorsports and associated automotive technologies provide an opportunity for additional expansion to take up the slack as manufacturing and tobacco farming have declined.
The NTRC will be managed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute under the direction of Tom Dingus, director of the institute, with Virginia Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering leading the technical effort and the IALR providing additional local support.
This facility will be the only one of its kind in the world, Mr. Dingus said, and will generate world class tire research data while generating significant revenue and high tech jobs in southside Virginia.
The NTRC's goals will be to conduct independent testing, research and assessments to complement research and development performed by tire and auto makers with a focus on increasing research on green technology.
The NTRC will provide the automotive industry with testing capability that is necessary to engineer and develop tires that will provide higher fuel economy and lower emissions.
As a founding member of the NTRC, GM looks forward to partnering with Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth of Virginia to pioneer research and development that will develop green tire technologies to further improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles in the future, said Karl Stracke, GM's vice president of Global Vehicle Engineering.
The NTRC will house a newly designed force and moment machine, designed for passenger car, light truck and race car tires. The center will also incorporate state-of-the-art rolling resistance machinery, enabling tire and automotive manufacturers to accelerate the development of green tire technology, reproduce real world emergency events, and improve vehicle highway safety, the university said.
The data provided by the NTRC will accelerate the development of these technologies and enable a leap in the use of computer-aided engineering (CAE) simulation in automotive engineering.
The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Relations Revitalization Commission is a 31-member body created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1999. Its mission is the promotion of economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement.
GM engineers and scientists, and Virginia Tech faculty members will work together to conduct research and testing, thus enabling the industry to more rapidly introduce vehicles with the newly developed technology, the university said.
Under the leadership of Mr. Dingus, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute employs a team of multi-disciplinary researchers, engineers, technicians, support staff and students dedicated to conducting applied research from various perspectives by developing and using state-of-the-art tools, techniques and technologies to solve various transportation challenges, according to the school.
VIR is a 3.27-mile racetrack and motorsports business park that opened in 2000. The track is booked nearly year-round for racing, testing, schools, television productions and corporate events, according to VIR.