Manufacturing AUTOMATION

ACE names two directors

March 22, 2010
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

GM recently named the two professionals who will be at the wheel of the innovative new Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE).

Gary Elfstrom, director of business development, and John Komar, director of engineering and operations, are both engineers with extensive experience. Each has worked in Canada and abroad designing, building and managing proving grounds and technically advanced test facilities, particularly in the area of aeronautical and automotive testing.

“To operate a complex testing, development and innovation centre like ACE you need highly specialized people, and we are thrilled to have both Gary and John on board,” said Tom Austin, vice-president of Finance and chief financial officer at UOIT. “They both have a wealth of global experience designing, starting up and operating wind tunnels and world-class proving grounds.”

Among his many accomplishments, Elfstrom was a co-founder and later vice-president of business development at Aiolos Engineering, a Toronto-based global company that designs, builds and maintains test facilities around the world including wind tunnels. In fact, Aiolos designed the climatic wind tunnel in ACE. Elfstrom holds a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of London (Imperial College) in England.

For more than 23 years Komar has worked at GM in various capacities. In his most recent assignment, Komar was overseeing the design, development and construction of all aspects of the ACE facility while managing GM’s Cold Weather Development Centre in Kapuskasing, Ontario. Komar holds a Master in Mechanical Engineering degree from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

The new team will also include Dongyool Jung, a mechanical engineer who has worked for GM and the Hyundai Motor Company in Korea; Warren E. Karlson, a mechanical engineer and Randy Burnet, an electrical engineer, who both worked for GM in various capacities. Combined, this group of engineers brings more than 100 years of wind tunnel, proving ground and test lab experience to the ACE facility.

“ACE will be a one-of-a-kind facility where the next generation of clean and green vehicles, the latest energy technology and innovative products we haven’t even thought of yet will be developed,” said Austin. “Before that can happen we must get ACE up and running and I’m confident we have the right people with the necessary skills and breadth of experience to get the job done.”

ACE is being developed in partnership with UOIT, General Motors of Canada Ltd., the Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE), the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada. It will be a multi-level centre with an area of approximately 16,300 square metres. The centrepiece of ACE will be one of the largest and most sophisticated climatic wind tunnels on the planet. In this test chamber wind speeds will exceed 240 kilometres per hour, temperatures will range from -40C to 60C and humidity will fluctuate from five to 95 per cent anytime of the year. The climatic wind tunnel will have the ability to simulate conditions like driving a car up a steep hill in dry desert heat or in an arctic blizzard.

ACE is currently under construction and is scheduled to open in 2010. It will operate as an independent test facility, available for rent by manufacturers of all descriptions, start-up companies and researchers in Canada and around the globe. When funding for all aspects of the facility is secured, the total project cost will be more than $123 million. 

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