TMI AutoTech, exclusive North American manufacturer of the Ariel Atom vehicle, has successfully teamed with the Halifax Industrial Development Authority (IDA) for a Research & Development Grant. The $838,000 grant will be used to develop a new sports car which is distinctly different from the Ariel Atom and focused towards an international track day market.
"We are pleased that the Tobacco Commission awarded TMI AutoTech with this grant," stated Mark Swain, one of TMI's owners and its Vice President of Marketing. "Receiving the award is a vote of confidence in our project in addition to the regions capabilities."
"The 19 new advanced manufacturing jobs build on Halifax County's skilled workforce," says Matt Leonard, Halifax IDA's Executive Director. "Also, this project will utilize all of the other R&D assets already established in Halifax County, Virginia, through Tobacco Commission programs. Dr. Doug Corrigan, the Director of the IDA's Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC), worked closely with TMI to develop the grant request and shepherd it through to approval."
SVPAC is located in the Halifax IDA's Southern Virginia Technology Park (SVTP) and includes a Modeling and Simulation Center and Business Incubator. It is adjacent to the IDA's National Center for Coatings Application, Research & Education (C-CARE), which is a one-of-a-kind open source applied coatings laboratory.
"We believe there is no other single place in the country where a manufacturer can access these types of product development tools," says Dr. Corrigan. "Certainly, SVPAC, C-CARE and the R&D Centers in Halifax County, including the National Tire Research Center and Southern Virginia Motion Lab, offer a unique array of R&D assets to makers of vehicles."
"One of the cornerstones of the application is the establishment of a composites prototype lab in the C-CARE lab," says Mr. Swain. "We will make and finish composite panels for the Ariel Atom and our new Sportscar . Going forward we also plan to become an OEM of composite products for other manufacturers."
"We see great growth potential for TMI's composites initiative," says Mr. Leonard. "We'll continue to work with TMI to find ways to expand on this opportunity."
Dr. Corrigan agrees, "Carbon Fiber materials are an advanced material used widely in the Aerospace and high performance automotive industries. Halifax will become the first place in Virginia actively manufacturing these types of parts."
TMI expects to have the new sports racer designed and under production in less than one year.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2014
The Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), its Southern Virginia Product Advancement Center (SVPAC), and TMI AutoTech participated in the Governor's Virtual Town Hall on Technology-Based Innovation and Entrepreneurship on September 10, 2014. The virtual town hall meeting hosted by Governor McAuliffe, Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson, and Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, connected nine different locations across Virginia. The IDA, SVPAC and TMI participated using the Cisco 3000 Telepresence room at the IDA's Southern Virginia Technology Park.
In 2006, a joint subcommittee of the Virginia legislature studying the needs of the manufacturing sector and the future of manufacturing in the commonwealth found disturbing statistics.Since peaking at 432,500 in 1989, Virginia's manufacturing employment had fallen to 296,600 by June 2004. The numbers haven't improved since then. In June, the Virginia Employment Commission reported Virginia's manufacturing employment at 229,100, a more than 20 percent dip in a decade. Despite those statistics, the outlook for manufacturing in Virginia seems to be improving.
Administration and staff at Halifax County Middle School and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) proudly announce a partnership to support Science, Engineering, Technology, and Math (STEM) opportunities for students and teachers. The partnership will yield several STEM-focused initiatives in the coming year. HCMS Principal Faye Bruce stated, "We are elated about this partnership. It will afford our students the opportunity to develop 21st Century skills by participating in this initiative."
When the team at VIRginia International Raceway wanted a custom trophy produced for the Oak Tree Grand Prix/Tudor United Sportscar Championship weekend, they came to the staff at the Southern VA Higher Education Center's R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE). Over the past few years, the R&D CAMEE team has developed a reputation for producing beautifully designed, signature trophies for prestigious competitions (see Pinnacle Award; Design Emphasis Award). The R&D team was honored with the request to design and produce a trophy for one of the largest races at the nation's premier road course.With the VIR trophy, R&D CAMEE embraced the theme "A personal victory deserves a custom trophy." Their goal was to design a piece that would not only invoke pride for the winner but also instantly take him back to the track where it all began. There were several ideas discussed, but ultimately the R&D team decided "what's more symbolic of VIR than the track itself?"
Using its sophisticated Siemens NX Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, the R&D team converted a topographical map of the track into a 3-D CAD drawing. They then used their three and five axis CNC routers and water jet router, to machine the replica of the track. This replica, made of aluminum and including the changes in elevation that make VIR one of the country's premier road courses, became the head of the trophy.
The trophy's shaft and base were carefully crafted out of solid white oak, giving homage to VIR's iconic oak tree that fell July 2, 2013. Adding the final personal touch, R&D staff used their laser engraving capabilities to engrave the tiered base with the event name and date. The SVHEC's R&D team hopes the trophy will become a tradition at VIR--a custom prize heavily sought, and hard won, by drivers for years to come.
The SVHEC is offering assessments and training for the Manufacturing Technician 1 (MT1) certification. Classes begin September 8th and run through October 9th. Veterans and their spouses, members of the National Guard, unemployed, under-employed, and dislocated workers are all encouraged to attend training. Training scholarships are available (Click here to download the application).
The MT1 certification is a portable, stackable industry credential that demonstrates to employers anywhere in the world that an individual has an understanding of modern manufacturing. MT1 training modules will cover 12 critical technical skills used in all manufacturing settings: Algebra, Measurement, Math for Quality, Statistical Process Controls, Spatial Reasoning, Mechanics, Fluid Power and Thermodynamics, Electricity, Chemistry, Manufacturing Processes and Controls, Quality and Lean Manufacturing, Financial Literacy, and Business Acumen.
The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center's newest addition — a welding lab that offers entry-level training in the field — received a rousing welcome yesterday from state and local officials who gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the SVHEC Innovation Center. Guests included Dietra Trent, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Education and a Halifax County native, Mary Rae Carter with the Department of Commerce and Trade, and Keith Harkins, executive director of the Virginia Technical Institute, which will oversee the South Boston training program.
Dr. Betty Adams, executive director of the SVHEC, hailed the potential of the welding lab to provide vocational skills that the higher education world has largely overlooked. "What we're seeing with ... our welding initiative is something of a market correction" in higher education, said Adams. She lamented the gaps in trade and vocational education available to local residents and noted that "as baby boomers retire, they're leaving behind a gap in the workforce. These are jobs that are out there and they pay very well."
With the new industry-certified training at the SVHEC welding lab, "you're not earning a degree, you're earning a credential which is the good housekeeping seal of approval from industry," she said.
While Governor Terry McAuliffe, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and other members of the governor's cabinet were attending a series of meetings, events and fact-finding sessions in Danville on Tuesday, several cabinet members split up to explore other areas of southern Virginia. Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward and Secretary of Education Anne Holton traveled east to South Boston. McAuliffe and his cabinet were guests of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce's State of the Region addresses Tuesday morning. Shortly after lunch, Ward made her way to the Visitor's Center in South Boston where she met with State Parks Director Joe Elton, Staunton River State Park Manager Adam Layman and Tourism Director Linda Shepperd.