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IALR, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion announce VIPER partnership


BLACKSBURG, Va., July 29, 2005 – Today, Virginia Tech's Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), Virginia Tech, and Old Dominion University (ODU) announced a collaborative agreement bringing together resources to benefit the Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research (VIPER). The formation of this partnership enhances the range of services that VIPER offers to the automotive and motor sports industries.

The vehicle dynamics testing center can now offer access to the Langley Full Scale Wind Tunnel (LFST) and the 14X22 tunnel, which are operated by ODU. VIPER also has a seven-post rig, a sophisticated platform that can accurately simulate the stresses and strains of the road or a racing track on vehicles in a controlled laboratory environment.

"The LFST is the largest, university-operated wind tunnel in the world, providing aerodynamic analysis and simulations for ground and air vehicles. VIPER continues its effort to be a one-stop shopping entity for the motor sports industry,” said Oktay Baysal, dean of the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology at ODU. “The combination of the academic and research assets of ODU and Virginia Tech continues to expand VIPER’s role in economic development in the commonwealth.”

“This collaboration among Virginia Tech, ODU, and IALR helps to solidify VIPER's role as the cornerstone of the burgeoning motor sports industry in Southside Virginia,” said Mark McNamee, Virginia Tech's university provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “VIPER is combining Virginia Tech and ODU research expertise through IALR with physical assets at Virginia International Raceway to attract investment through testing contracts and commercial spin-offs.”

Mehdi Ahmadian, professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, is the principal investigator for the VIPER project.

VIPER is designed to offer complete testing, simulation, and research capabilities to automakers and motor sports teams. “The partnership among these institutions is a great opportunity to expand the research and commercial testing capacity of VIPER,” said Tim Franklin, executive director of IALR. “The natural connection between the Langley Wind Tunnel and the seven-post rig will make the services offered by VIPER especially attractive to the racing industry.”

The VIPER seven-post rig was purchased through a grant provided by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. IALR has partnered with the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority to operate the seven-post rig near Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County.

VIPER is one of IALR’s four research centers created with Virginia Tech to help transform the economic future of Southside Virginia. U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-5th, announced that the VIPER program is funded for $3 million from a NASA research grant beginning this fall. In addition, VIPER is financially supported by the Virginia Tobacco Commission and through the commonwealth’s funding to IALR.