Clemson students steer toward ‘automotive innovation’

Clemson University

GREENVILLE – Clemson University students are partnering with industry leaders in an effort to create sustainable solutions for the lifecycle of vehicles.

Sponsored by ExxonMobil, graduate automotive engineering students in the university’s flagship Deep Orange program will develop a next-generation sustainable concept vehicle.

The goal of the project is to develop an ultra-efficient, lightweight, highly durable mobility solution. The project emphasizes the integration of sustainability in the entire product lifecycle – from manufacture and operation with circular economy considerations. Students will have a hands-on experience working with ExxonMobil and skilled engineers throughout the design and development process.

CU-ICAR students have access to full-scale testing facilities for benchmarking, providing them with critical data to develop the next generation of vehicles.

“Automakers, parts manufacturers, tire companies and other auto-related businesses around the world rely on ExxonMobil to deliver advanced materials that help enhance and modernize automotive design,” said Stuart Milne, venture manager, sustainable mobility, ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

“We’ve developed lighter-weight vehicle plastics, liners that keep tires inflated longer, tire tread additives to reduce roll resistance, and advanced fuels and lubricants that improve engine performance. We’re excited to work closely with the future leaders of sustainable mobility at Clemson as part of an effort to further drive automotive innovation.”

After reaching an acceptable level of maturing in design, Deep Orange students build a scale mock-up. Prototypes are used to obtain feedback from external end-users to identify problems and guide the design. The process is repeated until end-users find the design satisfying and easy to use.

Housed at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), Deep Orange is an innovative, project-based learning program focused on systems integration.

Now in its 11th iteration, the program immerses automotive engineers into the world of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers.
Over two years, students obtain experience in financial and market analysis, vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning.

Students gain comprehensive technical knowledge as well as valuable “soft skills” that often are overlooked in traditional engineering programs.

Deep Orange 11 will be led by Srikanth Pilla, Jenkins Endowed Professor of Automotive Engineering at Clemson University and director of the Clemson Composites Center.

“Our program offers students the opportunity to work alongside industry experts and the prospect to bring their ideas concerning sustainable mobility into reality,” said Pilla.

“The hands-on experience gained through the Deep Orange program will ease their transition into the workforce upon graduation.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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