A new automotive testing facility at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology will allow researchers to drive cars up bumpy roads, in crosswinds, and in blazing hot and blistering cold conditions, all without having to go outside.
Matt Milovick, assistant vice-president of finance and operations at UOIT, says researchers are anxious to try out the new facility, which is nearing completion and should be open this spring. “It will give them access to research tools that they’d be hard-pressed to find any other place in the world,” he says.
The five-floor Automotive Centre of Excellence includes a state-of-the-art wind tunnel, with the ability to create wind speeds reaching 240 km/h, and two climate chambers that can create temperatures ranging from -40° to 60° C and mimic the sun’s radiation. The $100-million facility was funded by the university, neighbouring General Motors of Canada, the provincial and federal governments and other industry partners.
ACE is owned by the university but will operate as an independent test facility, which means the university won’t get any direct rental income from it. But faculty and students will still benefit enormously, says Mr. Milovick. The university’s engineering building is directly attached to ACE, and the second and third floors of the facility are dedicated to its faculty and researchers.
John Komar, ACE’s director of engineering and operations, says the facility will foster collaboration and help to bridge the gap between academia and industry. “We will be incorporating some projects and employment opportunities for students,” he adds. “They’ll have firsthand interaction with real-world development.”