0968912 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Saied Taheri 0968940 University of Akron; Celal Batur

The Center for Tire Research and Test Center (Tire TeC) will focus on building a base of research, engineering education, and technology transfer that will impact industrial practice and productivity through advanced materials and intelligent tire technologies. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) and the University of Akron (UA) are collaborating to establish the proposed center, with VT as the lead institution.

The primary goals of this planning project are to initiate formal partnership with various industry partners and national laboratories that have an interest in tire technologies, and to discuss fundamental issues and topics for research. The proposed IUCRC will generate new scientific knowledge; develop novel smart-material-based tires, novel nanotechnology-based tire compounds, and intelligent tire technology; and advance their associated dynamic models and constitutive relationships by developing virtual and hardware-in-the-loop-based simulation environments. The various envisioned research thrusts will provide solutions to improve the industry's yield and contribute to its competitiveness.

If successful, the proposed Center has the potential to improve sustainability and profitability of US tire manufacturing industry by developing new technologies that will reduce energy consumption, pollution and increase driving safety. The Center will greatly enhance the infrastructure and lead to other opportunities to assist the tire manufacturers. The proposed center plans to provide students and faculty with a platform for conducting industry-relevant research, establish an effective mechanism for collaboration, and will help promote, catalyze, and accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies. Finally, Tire TeC will recruit participants from groups traditionally under-represented in Mechanical Engineering, Polymer Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and other scientific disciplines and will promote this center through its ongoing working relationships with colleagues at Virginia Tech's Northern Virginia Campus and the Middle Eastern and Northern Africa (VT-MENA) campuses.

Project Report

with the new name of Center for Tire Research (CENTIRE) is a multi-university cooperative research center among Virginia Tech (VT) and The University of Akron (Akron). It is part of the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program. It is jointly supported by industry and the National Science Foundation (NSF). During the past two years a team of Faculty from both universities worked hard to receive commitment from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Michelin North America, Bridgestone Firestone Tire Company, Hankook (South Korea), Apollo Tyres (India), Toyo Tire (Japan), Yokohama Tire (Japan), Sumitomo Tire and Rubber Company (Japan), Nissan Motor Corporation (Japan), Ford Motor Company, Caterpillar, and Test Measurement Systems. The CENTIRE combines the modeling, testing, material science and manufacturing expertise of the VT researchers and the expertise of the Akron researchers in the material and polymer sciences. It will function as a complete tire science and engineering center with extreme versatility in developing synthesis and processing systems for tire compounds. It has the capability and goal to develop leading edge polymer composite and nano materials and processes to improve the technical base that is needed by the tire companies to compete successfully in the global marketplace. The mission of the Center is to create and transfer to Center Members the new technologies and relevant technical base to drive development of competitive technologies in polymer and nano materials for advanced, high performance tires. The Center conducts a cooperative research program that features a highly leveraged, pooled, research program. The cooperative research program includes the research of approximately 10-15 graduate students, 16 faculty researchers and several research scientists. Large industrial firms provide a minimum of $40,000 per year in research funding for membership in the cooperative program. Small, SBIR-size, firms pay a minimum of $20,000 per year in research funding for membership. Member firms play a major role in recommending and selecting projects for the cooperative program. Members may designate the program/project areas in the cooperative program to be supported by their funds. With the support from National Science Foundation both financially and procedurally (NSF has mastered the art of creating and running such centers and the program provides first class guidance to center directors on how to run the center) the Center for Tire Research has already started on the road to success. During the period between the proposal submission to establish the Phase I center and the award notification, Centire recruited four new members. There are four companies that have raised interest in attending the first Industry Advisory Board meeting as guests. In summary, the small grant provided by NSF for the Planning Grant Proposal has resulted in twelve major corporations finding a common ground to conduct pre-competitive research at an affordable cost and at the same time train the next generation of highly skilled workforce for the industry.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
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Rathindra DasGupta
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