SVHEC is one of only six grants awarded for the southeastern US region

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) a three-year, $250,000 Wood Traditional White Oak Wine Barrel. Photo Credit:  Gerard PrinsInnovations Grant award. The award was granted for the SVHEC’s R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&DCAMEE) project “Innovations in the Design and Fabrication of Wood Barrels: Design, Prototype, and Testing of a Unique Reusable/Recyclable Wood Barrel.”

The SVHEC received one of only six grants awarded for the southeastern region of the United States. Other recipients include the notable research institutions of Louisiana State University, Clemson University, and N.C. State University.

“We are thrilled to be one of only six in the southeast to receive the USDA Wood Innovations Grant. Another example of how SVHEC is advancing our region’s economic potential, this project supports our region’s growing wine industry by reducing production costs through the design of a reusable wine barrel,” said Dr. Betty Adams, SVHEC Executive Director.

K.ChrystieThe Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) is proud to announce Kevin Chrystie, CAD/CAM/CNC Practitioner, has been selected to present at the Siemens PLM Connection 2015: Americas User Conference in May. Chrystie’s presentation will highlight several collaborative projects, including a signature trophy for Virginia International Raceway, the SVHEC’s R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE) has completed using Siemens NX™ CAD/CAM software. NX™ is a leading integrated solution for computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering.

Chrystie stated, “NX™ is a very powerful CAD/CAM program.  It allows for a lot of flexibility in design, and a seamless transition to manufacturing parts on our CNC Routers and Mills.  I enjoy using the software and helping other learn how to use it as well.  It is an honor to be selected as a presenter at the NX User conference.”

The annual, national conference brings together users of Siemens PLM Software to share best practices around product lifecycle management, networking opportunities and product training. Only the “best of the best” NX™ users are selected to present. Out of 300 submissions, Chrystie’s submitted abstract was only one of 100 selected for the User Experience presentations.

“NX™ is a high level software and this conference is an environment of top tier users. To be selected from among this group is a difficult task and speaks very well of Kevin and his adoption of this software,” said SVHEC director of research & development David Kenealy.  

SVHEC's R&D Center Collaborates with Virginia Tech on Custom Packaging for Pinnacle Award

asfdtrophyvtbox-webContinuing a successful run of producing beautiful, custom trophies, the SVHEC’s R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE) has produced the 2015 Pinnacle Award Trophies for the American Society of Furniture Designers (ASFD). This is the second year R&D CAMEE has been asked to produce the custom trophies designed by ASFD designer Mark Tucker III.

This year, in addition to manufacturing the trophies in the Innovation Center’s advanced machining center, R&D CAMEE reached out to Virginia Tech’s Department of Sustainable Bio Materials to produce custom packaging for the trophies. The SVHEC has a long-standing relationship with Dr. Robert Bush, Professor of Forest Products Marketing, and asked for his help in developing custom packaging attractive enough to be a presentation box but sturdy enough to withstand the hazards of shipping.

Dr. Bush advised Virginia Tech students Stephanie Smith and Tyler Matusevich as they designed and produced a packaging system to meet the challenge. Smith and Matusevich exceeded expectations, by designing a unique solution that is not only functional but designed to highlight and complement the trophy. 

virtrophy-tudor-webWhen 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 3 and 5 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 Research & Development Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) has been CLT panel being machined on 5axis CNC routerawarded its second grant from the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, Virginia.

The $78,000 Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) award will be used to advance Virginia’s capacity to manufacture Cross-Laminated Timbers (CLTs) out of Southern Yellow Pine. If R&D CAMEE is successful in certifying Southern Yellow Pine as a CLT building material it will open the doors to new manufacturing operations in southern Virginia that could lead to economic development and job growth.

“Energy has been identified as an important economic development opportunity for the state, and CLTs fit into that wider discussion,” said SVHEC Director of Research & Development David Kenealy. “CLTs are clearly on the radar, and buildings using these panels are now going up in the U.S. If Southern Yellow Pine is certified as an approved material that opens the doors to a range of possibilities for new manufacturing in southern Virginia,” he continued.

R&D Interns 2014The SVHEC’s R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE) welcomed John Roark, Kiara Torian, Kenton Beard, and John Barry as new student interns for the spring semester. 

In addition to their responsibilities as interns they are also students in the Industrial Design & Development program, offered in partnership with Southside Virginia Community College. The internship is providing Roark, Torian, Beard, and Barry with opportunities to apply their ID&D skills to real world client projects in an advanced manufacturing setting. Two of the interns’ special projects this semester have been working on a second production run of the Pinnacle Award for the American Society of Furniture Designers (ASFD) and the Design Emphasis Trophy for the International Woodworking Fair (IWF).

In 2012, IWF commissioned R&D CAMEE to reproduce the iconic Design Emphasis trophy originally designed and hand-carved by the late Sam Maloof. Using R&D CAMEE’s reverse engineering, Computer Aided Design, and CNC capabilities, R&D staff replicated the beautifully curved, wooden trophy. Work on this trophy attracted ASFD's attention, leading to a collaboration between R&D CAMEE and ASFD to produce the Pinnacle Award. R&D staff brought ASFD’s design concept to reality by converting design renderings into a design-for-manufacture 3D model and producing the awards for 2013.

Because of R&D CAMEE’s quality work and professionalism, both organizations asked the R&D Center to produce a second round of awards. Interns Roark, Torian, Beard, and Barry used their knowledge and R&D CAMEE’s advanced manufacturing equipment to reproduce the awards. Both the Pinnacle Award and Design Emphasis Trophy are special awards in the national woodworking industry, and are given to individuals being recognized for excellence in their field. 

Roark, Torian, Beard, and Barry have all shown great promise in their Industrial Design & Development courses, and hope to use the internship as a stepping stone in building a career. After completing their studies Roark, Torian, and Beard hope to transfer to Virginia Tech's sustainable biomaterials program, and John Barry hopes to find employment in advanced manufacturing.

For more information about the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency call 434-572-5557 or email

awfstrophy-webThe International Woodworking Fair (IWF) is held every other year in Atlanta, GA. Among the competition categories is the Design Emphasis Award for advanced-level design students who excel in six categories: Case Goods, Commercial/Office/Hospitality Furniture, Design Creativity, Occasional Furniture, Ready-to-Assemble (RTA), and Seating. The winner in each of these categories is given a beautifully curved solid wood trophy designed by the late Sam Maloof.

Because IWF has a limited supply of the Maloof trophies, they approached R&D CAMEE in 2012 to re-create the iconic award. Using our reverse engineering, CAD, and CNC capabilities, R&D CAMEE replicated the beautifully curved, wooden trophy. Today, R&D CAMEE is proud to partner with IWF to produce the trophies for this prestigious, bi-annual woodworking competition.