A new Ohio State College of Engineering center is set to launch after Honda Research and Development Americas, Inc., provided a $5 million gift.

Currently, a remodel in Smith Lab is under way to support a new simulation center, called the Simulation Innovation and Modeling Center, said Scott Osborne, director of research operations at the College of Engineering.

The primary goal of the research and testing is to develop and apply leading-edge simulation tools, said Ahmet Selamet, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering chair.

Some of the potential simulations include testing newer and lighter-weight materials in vehicles.

“(In) the automotive industry, we look to lightweight vehicles more and more,” said Allen Sheldon, principal engineer of the SIMCenter.

The work at the SIMCenter will help with, “predictive simulations for an automotive crash, for durability of the vehicle structure with some of these newer materials,” he said.

The gift money will help students and faculty develop advanced simulation systems, Sheldon said.

“The purpose is to essentially promote research in a virtual engineering space,” Sheldon said. “We want to be able to eventually create very advanced simulation tools that combine models of our vehicles with all the physical characteristics and control systems, so it can interact with the driver and the environment.”

The gift money will be used as needed to fund various projects over the next five years, Osborne said. The process will have proposals submitted and selected based on which resonate best with the thrust areas, or focuses of research, of the SIMCenter, he said. These will then become small funded projects.

The research thrust areas have been broken into five key cores including, “solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, multiphysics, optimization and automation and digital manufacturing,” Sheldon said.

Selamet said graduate students will be a key part of the research and development of the computational engineering methods and application of the simulation tools.

“(Graduate students) will be the ones, once they learn the basics, who will take the development and application of these tools to the next level while learning tremendously in the process,” Selamet said.

He said over the next five years, the program is planning to add up to 25 graduate students.

“The key is clearly to continue this relationship (with Honda). This is a unique opportunity,” Selamet said. “It’s a strategic partnership between a spectacular research institution and a very reputable automotive organization.”

Additionally, Honda R&D Americas will support co-op students in the SIMCenter, Sheldon said. These students will be employed by Honda R&D Americas but will work on OSU’s campus.

Because the money was given to the College of Engineering as a gift, its use is not exclusively for research and testing for Honda R&D Americas, Sheldon said.

Osbourne said other companies might be included in the center’s projects as well.

“The goal is to bring in other industry partners that include other automotive companies, aerospace companies and maybe even big-box appliance companies,” Osborne said. “Simulation modeling techniques are used across a variety of industries.”

Selamet said the research conducted throughout the next five years will help build long-term sponsored connections.

“We would like to build an extensive relationship based on their needs combined with our expertise,” Selamet said. “These five years will give us lots of time to do that.”