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Ground broken for Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research facility


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 17, 2005 – The Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research (VIPER) broke ground today on its research and testing facility located at Virginia International Raceway. VIPER is a resource to the racing and automotive industries, providing a sophisticated testing environment and world-class research capabilities in the field of vehicle dynamics.

“This groundbreaking event today is a symbol of the impact that the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research is having on Southside Virginia,” said Timothy V. Franklin, executive director of IALR. “Through partnerships and extensive planning, IALR and Virginia Tech have placed a world class automotive research organization in this region. Partnerships with Old Dominion University, Halifax County, Virginia Tobacco Commission, the Commonwealth, and the Federal Government strengthen the programs VIPER will deliver. VIPER will be a major player within the industry and is a great example of how IALR research centers are influencing the economic future of Southside.”

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Michael Schewel is excited about the research center’s future contributions to the motorsports community in the Commonwealth. "VIPER will help bring research dollars and research contracts to Southside,” he said. “VIPER has partnered with Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, Virginia International Raceway, and Halifax County to establish itself as a major resource to the racing and automotive industries in Virginia and across the country.”

“Once completed, the VIPER facility at Virginia International Raceway will boast some of the most advanced testing infrastructure in the country,” said Mehdi Ahmadian, professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech and director of the VIPER program. “What will set VIPER apart are its technologies. Through advanced technologies, VIPER is expected to achieve breakthroughs for our clients in the automotive and motorsports industries.”

VIPER positions Southside to “compete with world-wide motorsports destinations,” according to Old Dominion University president Roseann Runte. “Old Dominion University is moving forward on a commitment to establish a major motorsports education and research program at IALR as part of the VIPER program that combines the strengths of VIR, the unique wind tunnel testing facilities operated by Old Dominion, and the specialized laboratories at VIPER,” said Runte. “The VIPER initiative provides state of the art facilities and equipment enhancing the education and training programs currently under development.”

Congressman Virgil Goode (R-5th district) announced this summer a $3 million NASA research grant to fund the research program. “I believe that VIPER offers significant opportunities for Southside Virginia and for the nation,” said Goode. “I have been pleased to support VIPER and hope to continue seeing VIPER involved in various Southside Virginia jurisdictions.”

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, which is essentially a “vehicle shaker” that tests suspension systems. Using force on seven different areas of the vehicle, the rig can simulate the stresses and strains of a race track environment. Because the rig is controlled by a computer, the simulations can be absolutely replicated on other vehicles as well.

In addition, VIPER is financially supported by the Virginia Tobacco Commission and through the Commonwealth’s funding to IALR.

The Virginia Institute for Performance Engineering and Research is one of four research centers located at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research. Each center was created in partnership with Virginia Tech to help transform the economic future of Southside Virginia. IALR research centers serve as innovation generators focused on the development of new businesses, as well as attractors to bring new companies to the region. The IALR is focused on the economic transformation of Southside Virginia through strategic research, advanced learning programs, community outreach, advanced technology, and commercial opportunity development.