Archive for September, 2020

Clemson builds advanced composites reputation with new research center

September 29th, 2020

Clemson Composites Center to support partners, state through high-impact R&D

When it comes to mega trends driving efficiency and sustainability for industry, the advanced materials space is one of the fastest growing high-potential areas for technological advancement.

In response to industry demand, Clemson University has partnered with the State of South Carolina to launch a full-spectrum advanced materials research and development center to drive breakthrough innovation for the state’s automotive, aerospace, defense and energy clusters.

The Clemson Composites Center combines decades of expertise and state-of-the-art equipment to bring all stages of the engineering lifecycle in one institution, from fundamental science and molecular engineering to rapid prototyping and full-scale commercialization.

“The complexity of high-impact innovation requires collaboration across partners from multiple sectors, which is why we continue to prioritize and invest in advanced manufacturing expertise and infrastructure,” Clemson President Jim Clements said. “This Center has already proven to be a research and development catalyst for the state and will continue to do so for many decades into the future.”

The 6,500-square-foot Center will strengthen the University and South Carolina’s national reputation for innovative composites research for the mobility industry, including the engineering of lighter, stronger, affordable, more sustainable composites solutions for cars, planes and beyond.

Srikanth Pilla

“Lightweight and advanced materials are crucial for a more sustainable and efficient future,” Clemson Composites Center Founding Director Srikanth Pilla said. “Everything we’ve built is designed to catalyze breakthrough innovation, from the Center’s integrated physical infrastructure to our holistic, interdisciplinary research and development approach. By working hand in hand with our partners, we’re can better deliver high-TRL research that moves us towards that goal.”

The heart of the Center – a new composites material laboratory – is being commissioned at the Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), adjacent to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). The lab will come online as early as Q1 2021. As part of CMI, the Center can expand aspects of technical training for Greenville Technical College’s advanced manufacturing and engineering students. A key component of the Center’s vision is to address workforce development challenges by offering graduate and technical students to chance to both collaborate, learn and  innovate in the same state-of-the-art research space.

The Center’s first project will be the completion of Pilla’s ambitious $5.8M research project to redesign a driver’s side door to be lighter, stronger and smarter using advanced composites. The interdisciplinary project team – which includes the U.S. Department of Energy and Honda R&D Americas, among other partners – will use the Center’s specialized equipment to build and validate the final prototype. The project has pushed the limits of component and material design for lightweighting, proving manufacturers don’t have to sacrifice safety, function, fit or production costs for fuel efficiency and sustainability.

Working closely with companies, the Center is designed to accelerate the development and validation of high impact technologies, acting as a catalyst for economic growth. By transforming and commercializing cost-effective, efficient and sustainable solutions, the Center supports South Carolina’s economic development efforts, industry innovation priorities and the development a highly skilled workforce.

Two men hold automotive parts, inspecting them together.

“The Clemson Composites Center is part of South Carolina’s broader strategy to develop innovative resources for the aerospace and automotive sectors, which are critical to continued economic development within our borders,” said South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “This is a powerful tool to both attract new industry and help existing businesses grow and succeed in our state.”

The advanced materials industry, which includes composite materials, has brought 10,200 advanced materials jobs and $7.2 billion in capital investment to the state since 2011, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce. South Carolina is home to more than 800 advanced materials and composites companies.

“From OEMs to suppliers in automotive, aerospace and beyond, the global reputation of CU-ICAR is directly tied to our ability to support our partners and advance economic development in South Carolina,” said David Clayton, CU-ICAR Executive Director and assistant vice president for the Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives. “We’re proud to say this new center does both.”

The Clemson Composites Center will launch with a cross-disciplinary leadership team and professional staff, and will be driven by support from research assistants, PhD students and CU-ICAR technicians.



Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is a 250-acre advanced-technology research campus where university, industry and government organizations collaborate. CU-ICAR offers master’s and Ph.D. programs in automotive engineering and is conducting leading-edge applied research in critical areas, such as advanced product-development strategies, sustainable mobility, intelligent manufacturing systems and advanced materials. CU-ICAR has industrial-scale laboratories and testing equipment in world-class facilities.

Clemson University and EY US to develop ‘edge-case’ autonomous racecar

September 28th, 2020

GREENVILLE – Clemson University has collaborated with professional services firm Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) to advance autonomous vehicle (AV) technology to be used by competitors in the Indy Autonomous Challenge. Thirty teams from 39 universities across the world have registered to compete in the first high-speed head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).

Female student looking at computer with blueprint

High-speed racing requires lightning-fast reflexes and advanced driver training to both optimize vehicle performance and maneuver around other drivers at similarly high speeds. These extreme — or edge-case — scenarios offer a rare testbed to develop and validate automated driving technology.

Through Deep Orange, one of Clemson’s flagship programs, automotive engineering students will develop the high-speed, self-driving, open-wheel racecar as part of their two-year graduate studies. Undergraduate and graduate teams from other universities will develop the driverless car software, which will then be imported and run on the Clemson-designed vehicle. The project aims to advance driverless technology for passenger cars and equip Clemson automotive engineering students with direct experience in the field.

“We see a lot of opportunities in the mobility sector, but we need a talented workforce to overcome the current challenges and propel autonomous forward into adoption,” says Steve Patton, EY Americas Mobility Leader. “Working alongside the engineering students at Clemson has given me a positive outlook on the future of innovation and the future of our workforce.”

In addition to being a lead sponsor of Deep Orange 12, EY US is providing thought leadership and professional seminars to the student team on topics driving the future of the mobility industry including the automotive value chain, emerging ecosystems and new business models.

Two male students looking at computer on desk with car parts

Deep Orange 12 is part of Clemson University’s long-running Deep Orange rapid prototype vehicle program housed at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). Now in its 12th year, the program addresses technology challenges facing the mobility industry with an innovative concept vehicle. Deep Orange develops the next generation of engineering leaders through an immersive educational experience within the Department of Automotive Engineering.

Deep Orange 12 addresses two major challenges affecting the automotive industry today: connectivity and automation. For optimum safety and efficiency, self-driving vehicles will need to receive and process incredible amounts of data, from infrastructure and satellites to other vehicles on the road. Research also shows a strong need for more — and more frequent — high-visibility demonstrations of autonomous technology in action to drive public acceptance and use.

For this project, Clemson students must not only replace the driver’s interactions with the vehicle using electronic steering, brake and throttle controls but also design a complex set of perception sensors and on-board computers that analyze the racing environment. These systems include a suite of lidars, radars, cameras and high-precision GPS systems that mirror the way human drivers receive and process information, which is then used to locate vehicles on the track and strategize how to beat the competition. The Deep Orange 12 student team is also designing a powertrain specifically around the requirements of autonomous racing.

“The extreme engineering behind motorsports has often been used as a testbed to push the boundaries of consumer vehicle technology,” says Robert Prucka, Deep Orange 12 faculty lead and Kulwicki Endowed Professor in Motorsports Engineering with the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute and associate professor with the Clemson University Department of Automotive Engineering. “This is an incredible opportunity for students to not only work with advanced racing technologies but have a hand in driving solutions for one of the most pressing engineering challenges facing the mobility industry today.”

Millions of fans watch motorsports events every year, and an undeniable part of the appeal are the skills and personalities of the drivers themselves, according to Prucka. With more advanced sensors, software and connectivity, the results of Deep Orange 12 could produce additional driver safety and crash-prevention benefits for today’s racing series.

“Even a fraction of a second can make the difference between a near miss and a collision, especially at racing speeds,” says Prucka . “By making competitor information available to the racecar through connectivity, the technologies we are developing can provide advanced collision warning to drivers behind the wheel.”

By collaborating with industry leaders such as EY US, students gain unique hands-on experience and expertise that lead to successful careers after graduation. Over two years, students gain business acumen and hands-on experience in vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning. Students develop comprehensive technical knowledge as well as valuable “soft skills” that are often overlooked in traditional engineering programs.

Deep Orange relies on a network of equipment, software, facilities and professionals to help students deliver their prototype vehicle within just two years. With EY US as primary sponsor, supporting partners include Energy Systems Network, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and the Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute.

“Our goal with Deep Orange is to shape the next generation of engineering leaders with real-world projects that prepare them to develop solutions to tomorrow’s mobility challenges,” says Chris Paredis, BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration and Deep Orange Program Director. “A project as complex as engineering a high-performance racecar with state-of-the-art autonomous technology makes for a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. Our students earn both the skills and confidence to innovate and improve the interconnected mobility systems of the future.”

Announced in late 2019 at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the Indy Autonomous Challenge is a $1.5 million university prize competition organized by Energy Systems Network and IMS to win the world’s first head-to-head, high-speed autonomous race on October 23, 2021. IMS hosts the annual Indianapolis 500, the largest single-day sporting event in the world.

The competition has attracted university teams from around the world, all of which are developing their own driverless vehicle algorithms. After extensive simulation testing and validation, each team’s code will be used to control a vehicle for the race at IMS’s 2.5-mile oval track. The vehicle used by these race teams will be based on the prototype developed in the Deep Orange 12 program at CU-ICAR.

While engineering students drive each Deep Orange project, they benefit from Clemson’s world-class cabinet of cross-disciplinary researchers within the Department of Automotive Engineering. Students also utilize the University’s state-of-the-art automotive facilities and testing equipment for the project, operating out of the 9,000-square-foot AVX Mobility Systems Innovation Lab on the CU-ICAR campus.


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Deep Orange
Deep Orange is a flagship program of Clemson University’s two-year master’s program focused on systems integration in automotive engineering. The program provides students with experience in market analysis, concept exploration, vehicle design, prototyping and manufacturing while balancing costs and design targets in an aggressive timeline. The innovative vehicle prototype program encourages students to push the boundaries of conventional design and engineering.

Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is a 250-acre advanced-technology research campus where university, industry and government organizations collaborate. CU-ICAR offers master’s and Ph.D. programs in automotive engineering and is conducting leading-edge applied research in critical areas, such as advanced product-development strategies, sustainable mobility, intelligent manufacturing systems and advanced materials. CU-ICAR has industrial-scale laboratories and testing equipment in world-class facilities.

CU-ICAR expands industry offerings with Technology Neighborhood III

September 10th, 2020

U.S. Economic Development Administration providing $2M for neighborhood’s first building

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Home to 21 global businesses, the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is expanding its footprint on the 250-acre campus with a new technology neighborhood, Technology Neighborhood III. The first building in the neighborhood will be a multi-tenant 40,000-square-foot high-bay facility supported by $2 million in funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

“As a contributor to the state’s knowledge economy, world-class facilities like those at CU-ICAR are critical. TN3 will support our students, researchers and industry partners with an innovative environment in which to prosper,” said Clemson President Jim Clements. “We are so appreciative of the continued support from our partners at the EDA for believing in our vision and providing funding to support these efforts, which will in turn allow us to support South Carolina’s economy.”

On Thursday, Dana Gartzke, assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, had an opportunity to tour the CU-ICAR campus and award Clemson with the $2 million EDA grant.

“Working alongside the City of Greenville, the state of South Carolina and our partners in Washington D.C. makes it possible for Clemson to provide state-of-the-art facilities that will help our strategic corporate partners grow and flourish,” said Angie Leidinger, vice president for External Affairs. “CU-ICAR has continued to grow since its inception 15 years ago from an automotive focus to be inclusive of the mobility industry in response to the needs of industry. This expansion is a further testament to our ability to support our partners, our state and our students.”

The building is designed to accommodate new and growing companies in the Upstate. The building aims to fill a void in the local real estate market for high-quality multi-purpose facilities that can accommodate a range of businesses, from startup companies to established firms in the automotive, transportation, manufacturing and engineering support service industries.

Technology Neighborhood III is CU-ICAR’s first new neighborhood in 15 years. First announced in 2003, CU-ICAR was founded to be an advanced-technology neighborhood where academia and industry converge. CU-ICAR announced the opening of its first building in 2007 and finished its sixth building in Technology Neighborhood in 2016.

“From OEMs to suppliers in automotive, aerospace and beyond, our global reputation is directly tied to our ability to support Clemson’s partners and advance economic development in South Carolina,” said Jack Ellenberg, associate vice president of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives. “CU-ICAR is a unique research park in that it’s not just a location, it’s a campus with active academic programs where companies can interact with other organizations, outstanding researchers and Clemson students, making it an asset to Greenville, our development allies and the state.”

The facility is planned as a multi-tenant high-bay, flexible laboratory and office building shell project intended for business tenants. Anticipated businesses located in the building may have high-bay spaces in 5,000 to 6,000 square foot bays for laboratory, small-scale distribution, engineering/ technical services, etc. with truck access at the rear. It is anticipated that some tenants may desire office spaces located in the front areas of the building.

LICAR LLC, an entity of the Clemson University Land Stewardship Foundation ( CULSF), will be the developer and owner of the facility. CULSF is an independent, non-profit entity that seeks to support Clemson through the development of real property in ways that to maximize the educational, research and economic development mission of the University.

Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is a 250-acre advanced-technology research campus where university, industry and government organizations collaborate. CU-ICAR offers master’s and Ph.D. programs in automotive engineering and is conducting leading-edge applied research in critical areas, such as advanced product-development strategies, sustainable mobility, intelligent manufacturing systems and advanced materials. CU-ICAR has industrial-scale laboratories and testing equipment in world-class facilities.