Clemson announces new automotive engineering degree

Bachelor of Science program part of the institution’s rapidly expanding International Center for Automotive Research

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson Tigers have something not sports related to roar about. The university has announced it is launching the nation’s first undergraduate Bachelor of Science program in automotive research. The new degree program stems from the rapid growth of Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and commitments from existing automotive manufacturers in the state to begin trading internal combustion engines for batteries and human drivers for self-driving cars.

Clemson has already blazed a path in research for sustainable self-driving cars with Deep Orange 11, a sustainable-by-design prototype vehicle that demonstrates circular economy concepts from the vehicle’s creation to its retirement. Deep Orange 11 was presented at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

The new degree program will launch in Fall 2023 with undergraduate students based on the main campus during the freshmen and sophomore years before transitioning over to the CU-ICAR campus near Greenville. CU-ICAR is home to Clemson’s automotive engineering faculty and graduate program and was the first in the nation to graduate students with a Ph.D. in automotive engineering.

“Some of the world’s leading thought leaders and most creative innovators in automotive engineering are on the faculty in the School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering,” said Zoran Filipi, founding director of the School of Mechanical and Automotive Engineering. “We offer cutting-edge facilities, impactful learning experiences and opportunities to collaborate closely with industry partners. Clemson is uniquely positioned to lead in automotive engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.”

The program also answers a practical need for automakers in the region. BMW, Volvo, Proterrra, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Honda, Tesla, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan and Kia all have equipment manufacturing facilities within 500 miles of the Clemson campus. According to the SC Department of Commerce, the auto industry in South Carolina employs 74,000 and has an economic impact of $27 billion.

In its announcement, Clemson cites a 2019 report by Boston Consulting Group that found the switch to autonomous and electric cars could create as many as 115,000 additional U.S. automotive and mobility industry jobs in the coming decade, including 45,000 for mobility engineers alone.

In the past year, manufacturers have announced investments in technology-based jobs including:

  • BMW is investing $1 billion to prepare its Spartanburg plant to produce electric vehicles and $700 million to build a new, high-voltage battery assembly facility
  • Redwood Materials will invest $3.5 billion for a new battery materials recycling facility, the single largest announcement in the history of South Carolina
  • Bosch plans to invest $200 million in Anderson County to create the company’s first production operation of fuel cell technology in the United States and another $260 million as Bosch launches production of electric motors in Dorchester County to support the U.S. market demand for electrified vehicles
  • US government committing up to $100 million for developing innovative virtual prototyping tools to design the next generation of autonomy-enabled, on- and off-road vehicles through a partnership with Clemson University and Virtual Prototyping of Autonomy-Enabled Ground Systems (VIPR-GS)

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