Test facilities in Halifax County now are under new name, structure
Two test facilities in Halifax County, the National Tire Research Center and Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Labs, are now part of the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation.
Virginia Tech announced the change on Wednesday, saying the new structure reflects the international impact made by the facilities’ testing and research.
A third component, a virtual design and integration laboratory, will be added to group, Tech said.
Frank Della Pia will head the organization. He has been executive director at the tire center since its opening last year.
“A very large percentage of our clients come to us from outside of North America; therefore, we are very much a company making a global impact,” Della Pia said in a statement.
The new structure and name “tells the industry that we are much more than a tire research and test facility. We offer a wide range of services and expertise, including tire characterization and test vehicle characterization and test tire and vehicle modeling and simulation. We offer services that cover the physical and the virtual, enabling a systematic approach to optimizing complex systems.”
The original tire center was the result of a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. Matching funds were supplied by General Motors — one of the other major users of the facility — with additional funding provided by Virginia Tech and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.
The center started with 13 employees, a number that has doubled to 26 and is expected to grow beyond 30 in the coming year.
The facilities will be dedicated to full performance testing — physical and virtual design integration — of highway and racetrack vehicles, including tire wear and noise, fuel economy, comfort and safety of drivers, and lap time performance data for NASCAR and other motorsports teams and series.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute conducts research to save lives, time, money, and protect the environment. It is one of the seven university-level research institutes created by Virginia Tech.