Detroit South - Clemson research campus will make SC auto research hub

November 13, 2003

A 400-acre automotive research campus, to be developed by Clemson University, promises to make South Carolina a hub of the nation's automotive and motorsports industry. The project already has generated $90 million in state and private support, including commitments from BMW and IBM.

Microsoft and Michelin also have expressed interest in being part of the initiative.

The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research will be the home of a new graduate engineering education center, distinctive research and testing facilities, and private industry R&D operations that will help support the region's growing automotive industry cluster.

"This project represents a new model for economic development in South Carolina, a model in which research universities are actively engaged in creating high-paying, knowledge-based jobs," said Clemson President James F. Barker. "The project proves that the combination of academic strength, industry partnerships, local leadership, and strong state support is a very powerful formula."

The first non-academic tenant on campus will be BMW Manufacturing of South Carolina, which has announced its plans to occupy an Information Technology Research Center to be built adjacent to Clemson's graduate school. The 84,000-square-foot center will support research that focuses on improving automotive software systems and software/hardware compatibility for BMW products.

The $15 million facility will be owned by Clemson and leased by BMW. State funding to build the center is part of the state incentive package offered to BMW last year when the company announced an additional investment of $400 million and creation of 400 new jobs over the next several years. Last year, BMW donated $10 million to Clemson to help endow the graduating engineering center. (See the BMW Manufacturing Corp. news release online at

IBM also announced its plans to form a long-term partnership with Clemson in the project, starting with a first-year commitment valued at $1.1 million. Officials said the commitment includes $750,000 worth of software and the assignment of an IBM executive at the research campus to support the work of Clemson faculty and students (See the IBM news release online at IBM is working with both Clemson and BMW on extended participation in the future.

Clemson plans to recruit nine faculty and up to 50 graduate students, who are expected to generate at least $5 million a year in research support. The graduate programs will focus on systems integration, addressing a growing challenge in the automotive industry as car components become increasingly computerized and complex. Graduates will be prepared to meet the engineering and management challenges of designing and building a highly complex modern automobile, in which mechanical, electrical and digital technologies work together to drive safety, performance, comfort and even entertainment. (See the Clemson University automotive research program news release and the automotive research list online at: and

The Clemson project already has generated $90 million in public and private support: The campus consists of a 250-acre Clemson campus and an adjacent 150-acre property that will be privately developed. Eventually, the campus is expected to include unique research and testing facilities, such as an automotive electronics systems lab, crash-worthiness lab, fuels lab with an emphasis in hydrogen-based research, and a full-scale wind tunnel.

The automotive research campus is located on 400 acres of property fronting Interstate 85 in Greenville, S.C., halfway between Charlotte, N.C. and Atlanta, Ga., a corridor that is home to two-thirds of the nation's motorsports racing teams. There already are 200 automotive-related businesses in South Carolina and another 114 automotive industry suppliers located in the Palmetto State.
For more information on related stories about the automotive research campus or high-resolution photos/images, go to:

Clemson University

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