About Us

The Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS) is an affiliated company of Virginia Tech that is revolutionizing the automotive industry. GCAPS provides mathematical modeling, advanced tire research, vehicle simulation and various algorithms for virtual vehicle technology development. The center specializes in independent simulation, testing, research, and assessments to complement or supplement activities performed by global vehicle manufacturers, tire manufacturers, suppliers, and motorsports teams. 

GCAPS provides and utilizes accurate models to support virtual development for the mobility industry. The simulation group, which has significant experience ranging from mathematical model development to graphic design to tire mechanics, is an important aspect of the successful model creation.  These models—including tire models, vehicle models, and environments—are created from both customer data sources and physical testing performed in their own advanced testing facilities, which feature the world’s most capable indoor flatbelt tire test machine. GCAPS physical testing expertise has led to research and new modeling methods for improved products delivered to their customers.  Clients use the models and testing services to elevate their performance in vehicle handling, autonomous vehicle technology, and many other aspects of transportation simulation. Collectively, the vast experience in controls development, vehicle simulation, model creation, and physical data interpretation help many companies in the mobility industry excel. 

Since 2012, GCAPS has conducted work with more than 100 global companies. Through our desire to be the best, we have established long term partnerships with GM, Pirelli and VTTI. Our commitment to advancing the transportation industry has led to supporting research by universities such as UAB and VT as well as supporting NHTSA. We are privileged to be approved tire test laboratories for Auto OEMs such as GM, Ford, Stellantis, and Toyota. The dedication and knowledge of our testing department has led to consistent customers such as Goodyear Racing, Renault F1, and many other prestigious motorsport entities. Our advancement in the ADS simulation continues to grow our relationships and introduce new companies to our physical and virtual services. 

Core Values

Core values are imperative in any organization. They clarify the means at which companies operate daily and achieve their goals. At GCAPS, it was important to define our core values and create a culture of transparency between our employees and our customers. Innovation is at the heart of our core values as a company. All other core values are the means at which we achieve high levels of innovation. 

Integrity – Honest, consistent, reliable, fair, we take commitments seriously 

Trust – Upholding trust and common ground between our employees 

Logical Truth – Solution Paths are defined by physical and system knowledge 

Communication – Two-way process to transfer relative information, in the right medium with clarity and concision, in a timely manner 

Flawless Execution – Profound understanding of the task, recognition that all steps of a project are critical. Tasks are completed above expectations on time 

Resolve – Endless quest for solutions to advance our client’s mission and employees work-life 

Engaged – Passionate dedication to scientific learning that benefits our clients and advances our employees growth 

Influential – Thought Leaders for new methods, processes, and technologies with no restrictive bounds that would impede advancement 

Frank Della Pia

Frank Della Pia

Executive Director

Frank Della Pia is the Executive Director of the Global Center for Automotive Performance (GCAPS). He joined GCAPS in 2010 and is responsible for leading all operations. Prior to GCAPS, Della Pia spent 34 years working in various positions within General Motors, including in vehicle development, vehicle dynamics, manufacturing and test lab management. He graduated from Michigan State University’s School of Packaging Engineering and is a motorsports and vehicle enthusiast with a focus on the new technologies coming to the transportation industry.

Jonathan Darab

Jonathan Darab

Operations Director

Jonathan Darab is the Operations Director for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). His responsibilities include new business development, technical sales, customer relations, and new technology development. Before joining GCAPS, Darab spent 12 years at General Motors in a variety of positions ranging from design to testing to manufacturing quality, with the majority being in vehicle dynamics. In these roles, he operated servo-hydraulic equipment for vehicle dynamics characterization, conducted advanced development of suspensions, and developed equipment and test procedures for advanced vehicle and tire testing. Darab has a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and a M.S. in Global Vehicle Integration. He holds four patents in tire and suspensions.

Dr. Kevin Kefauver

Dr. Kevin Kefauver

Technical Director

Dr. Kevin Kefauver is the Technical Director for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). In this role, Dr. Kefauver directs the research and development of test techniques, data analyses, controls development, and modeling and simulation advances for advanced vehicle development. Currently, Dr. Kefauver is developing processes for reducing Naturalistic Driving Data into appropriate datasets and vehicle dynamic simulations that allow ADAS and ADS developers to evaluate and improve their systems. Dr. Kefauver has extensive experience in vehicle dynamic testing, modeling, and simulation. His experience also includes vehicle testing and advanced data analysis while with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated and the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center at the Roadway Simulator facility.

Cliff Hodges

Cliff Hodges

Technical Specialist

Cliff Hodges is the Technical Specialist at the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). His responsibilities include test preparation and logistics, direct customer interaction, data analysis, and business development. Since joining GCAPS in 2014, Mr. Hodges has held multiple positions within the company, including: machine operator, test engineer, and test execution manager. He has also been heavily involved in development projects relating to surface studies, wet testing, motorsports, and tire models.

Dr. Lauri Mustonen

Dr. Lauri Mustonen

Research Engineer

Dr. Lauri Mustonen is a Research Engineer for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). His focus is on developing algorithms and tools for intelligent vehicles and for analyzing large sets of vehicle and traffic data. Dr. Mustonen has expertise in scientific computing, physics, partial differential equations, and Bayesian statistics. He received his doctoral degree in mathematics at Aalto University, Finland, and also has postdoctoral research experience at Emory University, GA, and Stanford University, CA.

Dr. Yi Li

Dr. Yi Li

Modeling and Simulation Engineer

Dr. Yi Li is the lead Modeling and Simulation Engineer for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). He specializes in the field of tire mechanics and the mathematical modeling of tire behavior. His knowledge of multi-body dynamics and continuous mechanics enables him to advance the tire model development and parameter identification capability at GCAPS. Dr. Li has five years’ experience in Finite Element modeling of large-scale linear and nonlinear mechanical systems involving geometric and constitutive nonlinearity. His work also includes model validation to correlate model predictions with physical tests.

Alex Hatchett

Alex Hatchett

Sponsored Projects Operations Manager

Alex Hatchett is the Sponsored Projects Operations Manager for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). Hatchett is known for his detail-oriented approach to design and his dedication to his projects, which include advertising, web design, 3-D modeling, scenario authoring, and virtual environment Development. He started at GCAPS in 2017 as a Machine Operator of the LTRe, before joining the autonomous vehicle simulation program as creative lead and later, Sponsored Projects Operations Manager. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Graphic Design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Patrick Haley

Patrick Haley

Test and Simulation Engineer

Patrick Haley is a Test & Simulation Engineer for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). His areas of expertise include multi-post shaker rig testing and vehicle tuning, data acquisition, data analysis, electronics, and autonomous vehicle simulation and development. He is a skilled and dedicated engineer with excellent work ethic and strong problem-solving abilities while being both customer and goal oriented, committed to producing results. Haley’s commitment to excellence aligns with GCAPS’s organization philosophy to solve difficult problems and develop unique solutions. joined the GCAPS team in 2014 upon graduating from the University of Maryland.

Ben Dawson

Ben Dawson

Sponsored Testing Operations Manager

Ben Dawson is the Sponsored Testing Operations Manager for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). He oversees the day-to-day functions of the tire test lab and is responsible for facilitating the efficient use of resources to complete projects within their established time frames. Dawson initially joined the GCAPS team as a Financial and Operations Analyst, providing administrative, budgetary, and scheduling support for the Business Manager and previous Operations Managers. Previously, Dawson worked as a Grant Assistant for the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

Veronda Osborne

Veronda Osborne

Business Manager

Veronda Osborne is the Business Manager for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). In her role, Osborne has developed and implemented business processes to facilitate smooth operations for the organization while ensuring compliance with all applicable rules and regulations. She is an experienced business manager with a demonstrated history of working in the research industry, and is skilled in accounting, management, payroll, recruiting, human resources and purchasing. Osborne received a Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) from Averett University and an Associate Degree in Accounting from Danville Community College.

Kenneth Erdner

Kenneth Erdner

Test Engineer

Kenneth Erdner is the Test Engineer for the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS). Kenneth has helped GCAPS customers prepare their test plans and analyze their data over the past six years. He is also one of the lead developers in wet testing capabilities and wet braking testing on the LTRe Flat Trac tire test machine. Previously, Erdner worked for ten years as an auto mechanic. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technologies from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.