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Take five: UOIT’s ACE celebrates fifth anniversary

ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel looks forward to next five years and beyond

Dynamic testing of a race car in the ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel.
Dynamic testing of a race car in the ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel.

It doesn’t seem quite so long ago that the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) formally opened one of the planet’s most unique research and testing facilities.

The date was June 13, 2011. The place was ACE (originally known as the university’s Automotive Centre of Excellence), a five-storey facility engineered to push the boundaries of innovation where researchers and industry can test products no one has ever thought of before, in the most extreme conditions possible.

Five years can sometimes pass like the blink of an eye. Almost immediately, the advanced features of ACE’s powerful climatic wind tunnel were creating a buzz in research circles. Capable of delivering made-to-order weather conditions every day of the year, ACE has facilitated significant advancements in research and development, and paradigm-shifting innovations in a multitude of industries. But ACE has also accomplished far more than its original expectations by providing truly unique educational opportunities for students and even being a venue for philanthropic community events.

More than an automotive research and testing centre

ACE was first envisioned as an advanced testing facility primarily purposed for the automotive industry, to help bring new products and ideas to market as rapidly as possible. It is the first commercial automotive research, development and innovation centre of its kind in the world.

While ACE still largely focuses on being an ideal venue for a complete range of automotive testing, its massive and highly sophisticated climatic wind tunnel has opened its doors to testing in non-automotive markets. ACE has played host to dozens of film, television and media productions. It has also been a perfect place for experiential learning workshops for students.

ACE has stayed ahead of the curve through its fresh take on emerging markets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), architectural testing, electric vehicles and human aviation. ACE has worked with leading-edge UAV companies to stage drone-piloting workshops. In early 2016, ACE brought together some of the biggest UAV names together under one roof for UAV Industry Day. 

ACE also recently played host to various green energy transportation initiatives. It was a featured stop in the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada’s 2012 and 2016 electric vehicle EcoRun events, and the venue for the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium’s 3rd Electric Vehicle Conference. ACE is also helping extreme sport enthusiasts take to the sky through its testing of world-first prototypes like Wyp Aviation’s Wingboard and Squirrel’s newest innovations in wingsuit technology.

University research at ACE

The faculty research taking place at ACE has evolved through the first five years. ACE leveraged its extensive climatic capabilities to aid the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences in vital research on the occupational physiology of firefighters to improve safety on the fire ground.

Alongside this research, ACE has also worked toward changing the face of education at UOIT by providing an assortment of educational offerings to Ontario university and college students. ACE’s vast testing capabilities and knowledgeable industry partners have supported aerodynamic engineering and pre-service firefighting workshops, as well as hands-on learning opportunities for students in health science courses and labs.

Stretching the capacity of the ACE Climatic Wind Tunnel

Aside from industrial and commercial testing and research, ACE has become the perfect destination for exhilarating community and fundraising events with charity and fitness at the forefront. First-ever climatic yoga, Zumba, and spin classes in the climatic wind tunnel have subjected hundreds of brave participants to every possible grueling weather condition on the planet as they raise awareness and funds for charitable causes.

Media coverage of ACE spawns new production opportunities

ACE’s unique features have garnered national and international attention from broadcasters since 2011. Media visitors producing video segments at ACE over the years include Discovery Channel Canada, National Geographic, CBC Television, The Weather Network and CTV News, to name just a few. This media attention has led producers to consider ACE as the ideal location for the production of films, television programs and commercials. One video ad shot at ACE for General Motors aired during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The next five years and beyond…

ACE is devoted to pushing the limits on researching and testing the newest and most innovative concepts and ideas, to help take industry where it has never gone before. ACE has clearly achieved this in its first five years. ACE will undoubtedly continue to break new ground and have significant impact in the years to come.

Snapshot of selected ACE news stories and events from 2011 to 2016 (with links, where available)

Media contact
Bryan Oliver
Communications and Marketing
University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)
905.721.8668 ext. 6709