Southern VA Higher Ed. Interns Develop Unique Trophy for VIR Race

      Alton, VA - An upcoming race series at VIR will be extra special this year thanks to a unique trophy design.

      The Oak Tree Grand Prix will feature trophies made of white oak - the same species as the beloved tree they lost last year.

      VIR approached the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center about making the trophies as an intern project.

      Now, those interns here are using cutting edge technology and advanced manufacturing tools to develop some of VIR's most unique trophies to date.

      "When you look technically at the trophy, there is actually a lot of complex comprehensive work that goes on, " said David Kenealy, Director of the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency housed in the Higher Ed Center.VIR wanted something special for their upcoming Tudor UnitedSportsCar Championship - known as the Oak Tree Grand Prix.Thanks to digital manufacturing, special is just what they got.Using topography, creators designed the head of the trophy to look identical to the track - complete with inclines and turns.

      "We've actually shown this to people who have been on the racetrack and they immediately relate to a particular time during their driving the course, " Kenealy said.Marketing Director Mike Rose says VIR is all about keeping dollars local and supporting other Southside groups. So, they knew the Higher Ed Center was the perfect choice.

      "When we went over there and looked at the capabilities that they had, they were so dramatic, we knew we could do something - help promote a great cause and get a great product, " Rose said.For the interns involved, they're getting valuable workforce training - the kind of training Governor Terry McAuliffe said southern Virginia really needs more of.

      "There are plenty of jobs out there. The issues is, there's just no workforce. All the skills we teach here are trying to bolster this, " said Lab Technician Joshua Brooks.

      More than 30 trophies will be completed for the race. Each first, second, and third place winner will walk away with one. The TUDOR UnitedSportsCar Championship will be held August 22nd at V22