The facility has one large climatic wind tunnel, one of the most sophisticated anywhere in the world, capable of measuring all of these properties at once and accommodating vehicles as small as a bicycle or as big as a transport truck. The wind tunnel also has a storm generator that can simulate heavy rain, snow, humidity or dry heat.
There are several additional climatic chambers at the facility that perform the same functions but without the wind, one of which also houses a four-post shaker rig.
“That basically shakes and rattles vehicles in those environmental conditions to make sure that nothing breaks and it doesn’t create any squeaks and rattles that a customer would not like to hear,” Gammage said.
These capabilities have attracted clients from all levels of the automotive industry.
WORK WITH SUPPLIERS
“We do a lot of work with Tier 1 and Tier 2 automotive suppliers in our facility that are based in Canada,” Gammage said. “They’ll test anything from door seals to door-handle mechanisms, and we’re getting more and more into what’s called active-aerodynamic features. One example is grille-shutter systems. These would be something that a Tier 1 would supply to a Ford or a Chrysler. We’ll test the system in a wind tunnel to make sure it performs as required.”
The upcoming addition of a moving ground plane (see sidebar, left) to ACE’s equipment offerings will secure the position of UOIT, and by extension Canada, as a world leader in aerodynamic development. An underappreciated side benefit, however, is the unique training opportunity the facility provides to Canadian students entering the field.
“There are hundreds of students that go through our workshops or some of the other activities that we conduct every year within the wind tunnel,” Gammage said. “Obviously, a lot of them are from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, but there are other institutions that are coming to experience this as well.
“And then co-op [students] and interns, there are probably a half dozen or so that are going through our facility every year and working with us, learning the automotive product-development trade, and getting ready for the market. They get scooped up quite quickly when they’re done their terms when they have that experience.”