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PM offers $10 million boost for UOIT

Trudeau tours ACE facility

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau uses some of the climatic technology at UOIT’s Automotive Centre of Excellence on Aug. 31. Trudeau also announced $9.46 million in funding towards enhancements to the centre. (Photo by Dave Flaherty)

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

As students were returning to UOIT for the upcoming semester, the school had another visitor on Aug. 31.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in town to tour UOIT’s Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) building.

He also announced $9.5 million in federal funding towards the construction of a moving ground plane, a giant belt that acts as a road surface under a vehicle.

The equipment simulates aerodynamic forces against moving vehicles and measures the physical characteristics of real-world conditions.

The moving ground plane will be incorporated into the existing wind tunnel facilities at the ACE, one of the largest in the world.

It can simulate wind speeds up to 300 km/h, temperatures from -40 to 60 degrees, and has the ability to replicate different solar arrays and storm conditions.

UOIT president Dr. Steven Murphy says this will put the university in a class of its own.

“This funding announcement is huge. It allows us to become the world’s only climatic wind tunnel with a moving ground plane,” he says. “This allows us to be the one facility in the world that can do climatic and aerodynamic (testing) at the same time.”

Prior to the funding announcement, Trudeau was given a tour of the facility, testing out a smoke machine in the wind tunnel.

He praised the work being done at the centre.

“It’s the kind of technology that makes the ACE here at UOIT a world-class facility,” Trudeau stated. “Everything from cars to bicycles to drones are tested here, developing the best quality and performance possible.”

The prime minister said the facility creates “new, energy-efficient products that have better results and creates less pollution.”

One top of this, the engineering students who learn at the ACE are the future minds in the auto industry, he adds.

“Today’s investment isn’t just about keeping our research competitive, it’s also about creating good jobs in Canada,” Trudeau said. “It keeps our industry competitive on a world stage.”

Brooke Godding, a third year technical engineering student, spoke on the impact it will have for her and her colleagues.

“The success of ACE in many ways translates into the success of students who are here t learn, roll up their sleeves, and work along brilliant and innovative researchers,” Godding said. “You are investing in the future of our region, and our country, and by extension, you are investing in the success of our graduate and undergraduate students.”

Once the expansion is completed, Murphy says the possibilities are almost endless.

“The expansion is going to exponentially grow in terms of what we can do,” he says. “We can turn cars into the wind, or we can turn them off the wind. We can do a major amount of things.”

“It’s so crucial for every manufacturer, every consumer who wants to save energy, and every government who wants to create a better society to live in,” he added.

Earlier this year, the then-Liberal provincial government announced $4 million in funding for the expansion project.

Murphy said he is confident this will be honoured by the new government under Premier Doug Ford. UOIT will chip in $500,000 for the equipment, while automotive supplier Magna International is contributing $1 million. Multimatic, a leader in the field of moving ground planes, will provide engineers to help develop the technology needed.

“This is a great example of a private-public partnership,” Murphy said.