BLACKSBURG, Va.—Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University plans to set up a $14 million tire research and test facility at the Virginia International Raceway in nearby Alton, Va.
Virginia Tech said it expects the National Tire Research Center to generate more than $12 million in testing and research expenditures with- in 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.
Funding will be provided by General Motors Co., the Virginia Tobacco Commission and the university itself. GM and the Tobacco Commission will give $5 million each, while Virginia Tech will contribute $4 million, according to the university.
The facility is a partnership involving the Virginia Tech Transpor-tation Institute, GM, Vir- ginia Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, the Southside Virginia community, and the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Relations Revitalization Commission.
The center will enhance and expand areas of automotive research, and create economic activity in Southside Virginia—the southern end of Virginia's Piedmont region—according to Virginia Tech President Charles Steger.
He said the center will develop products to save energy and improve safety for motorists.
Southside Virginia's economy traditionally has been based in furniture and clothing manufacturing, tobacco farming and motorsports, the university said. However, 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, with Virginia Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering leading the technical effort and the IALR providing additional local support. He said the center will be the only one of its kind in the world, and will 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.
GM engineers and scientists and Virginia Tech faculty members will work together to conduct research and testing, enabling the industry to more rapidly introduce vehicles with the newly developed technology, according to the university.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute employs a team of multidisciplinary 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, the university said.