- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Since 1985, Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center and its snowy, icy test tracks have been Michelin’s proving grounds for snow tires and all-season radials.

“We’re here to test tires in extreme conditions,” said test driver Ed Gliss. “These are about as extreme as you can find, a good proving ground for our products.”

Each year, test drivers and engineers make the trip from Michelin’s headquarters in South Carolina, along with two 18-wheelers packed with a wide variety of tires for testing, The Daily Mining Gazette (https://bit.ly/1QRqiSn ) reported. They don’t leave until they’ve driven every set, said director of consumer public relations Brian Remsburg, a process that keeps tire designs improving continuously.

This winter, many developments are in tire composition, the mix of materials that make up the rubber, he said.

“A lot of the treads are the same,” said Remsburg. “The compounds have changed.”

Gliss said his job is to drive as aggressively as possible while staying on the track, to collect data on tire performance in extreme conditions.

“Every lap we drive basically at the limit,” he said. “Whatever the tire will let you do.”

So how does a young auto-enthusiast land such a glamorous, globe-trotting, adrenaline-junkie job? Did he rise from dirt-track racing?

Actually, Gliss started with a four-year mechanical engineering degree, he said, which helps him understand the scientific fundamentals of the testing, and continued with about a year of on-the-job driver training, to learn to carefully control his driving for consistent tests.

So, next stop NASCAR?

More likely he will stick with Michelin, which offers a variety of advancement opportunities. Marketing might be a good fit, he said, because of his international experience as a driver.

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Information from: The Daily Mining Gazette, https://www.mininggazette.com

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