Coming soon to the GTA: Weather in box, in the form of a world-class testing facility. The General Motors of Canada Automotive Centre of Excellence will house 16,300 square metres worth of cutting-edge technology.
Set to open in the spring/summer, ACE will offer a full range of testing facilities, most notably one of the largest and most sophisticated wind tunnels on the planet, right here at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Oshawa campus.
“It umbrellas two areas: A core research facility and an integrated research and training facility,” says John Komar, resident manager and engineering manager for ACE. “One is a very large physical property testing area, and the other would be smaller, testing in industrial labs and support.”
The crown jewel of the centre is its climatic wind tunnel. Five stories high, the wind tunnel simulates a variety of testing conditions.
“We can create temperatures ranging from -40 C to 60 C, five to 95 per cent humidity, sunlight — from a heavy desert sun to light northern Ontario sun,” along with winds of up to 240 km/h from any direction, says Komar. “On top of all this, we can also throw snow, rain, sleet, at the vehicle as well. So we can have a snowstorm in July or a desert wind in January.”
Testing can range from a small vehicle to a coach size bus or fuselage.
“The reason you first investigate it is the wind tunnel,” says Komar. But the additional environmental chambers, which simulate actual road conditions such as potholes, and a multi-axis stimulation table, are why you come.
“When students across Canada, and around the world, are making that difficult choice of where to go, this facility will be very attractive to them,” says Dan Miles, strategic communications, external relations at UOIT. “It’s a one-of-a-kind-facility because it’s all under one roof.”
The partnership with UOIT gives ACE yet another fundamental tool under that roof: The collaboration of education and industry.
“The university is going to drive that innovation and that broader thought process, benefiting not only the automotive industry but industry in general. What we’re trying to do here is drive science to reality,” says Komar.
“In this facility, we’ll be developing products that we haven’t even thought of yet,” adds Miles, “right here in Oshawa, in the Greater Toronto Area.”