BMW and ICAR
Introduction – Past to Present Contrary to popular belief, Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CUICAR) was not an idea that was born overnight, but a natural, evolutionary process. For more than 15 years Clemson has provided an undergraduate, automotive curriculum for its students. As interest in its undergraduate classes grew – as well as the automotive private sector base in South Carolina – Clemson recognized the need for a graduate school.
Over the last three years, a team of partners that included Clemson University, BMW Manufacturing, Greenville business and government leaders and Cliff Rosen, CEO of Rosen Associates explored multiple concepts for an automotive research park. This group visited other research parks in the area, such as Centennial Research Park in Raleigh, N.C., to help develop its concept.
The group then partnered with state and local government to announce the creation of CUICAR, which includes the Carroll A. Campbell Graduate Engineering Center and private sector research centers. The partnership has grown recently with the addition of Microsoft, IBM and Michelin, which will have locations on the new campus. CUICAR has moved one step closer to opening its doors with the hiring of Bob Geolas as director of the International Center for Automotive Research. Currently, teams from the Clemson University faculty, BMW Manufacturing and Michelin are developing curriculums to be used in masters and doctoral programs in automotive engineering.
“We are doing something new and different and taking it to the next level. This is truly unique,” said Geolas. “All across the country, the world even, you are seeing research universities develop these parks. Most are business parks but not this one. The difference is that the central focus of ICAR is academic.”
What Makes CUICAR DifferentCUICAR follows an original business model that makes it distinctive among research parks. Two major differences separate CUICAR from other research parks:
- CUICAR is academically driven. Most research parks are driven by the private sector.
- CUICAR represents the first of partnerships to tie together the state’s research universities, Clemson, University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina, with business and government to improve the state’s business climate.
BMW Manufacturing believes that innovation comes through integration. What also makes CUICAR unique is that the mechanical, electrical and computer engineering curriculums will be integrated and taught by both educators and private-sector engineers. Faculty members will be just as involved in the research as students, and engineers from BMW and Michelin will teach in the graduate school. This will help shape and prepare students and faculty, as well as keep faculty in touch with what is actually happening in the automotive manufacturing companies and suppliers. Research and development will be based on real-time problems, not ‘made up’ scenarios. This positively impacts both students and companies, and leads to innovative results.
“It is giving our students an opportunity others don’t have,” said Clemson President Jim Barker. “It’s a different kind of education, having engineers from BMW and Michelin teaching you.”
“This project has moved the university to a whole new plateau,” said Clemson Vice President of Research Chris Przirembel. “The project continues to gain substantial momentum at national and international levels.”
CUICAR is a perfect blend of academic and corporate research, and public and private sector business working together with government officials.
“When a group of smart people work together, big things happen,” said S.C. Governor Mark Sanford. “This is an excellent example of what we can accomplish when we take a team approach on the economic development front.”
Without our partners and the vision of our state legislators, this project wouldn’t have culminated. Two bills passed by the S.C. General Assembly provided key support – the Research Centers of Excellence Act and the State General Obligation Economic Development Bond Act.
BMW has pledged $10 million to Clemson to endow professorships in the graduate automotive engineering program and under the Research Centers of Excellence Act, the state of South Carolina matched the pledge, generating $20 million for the school. And as part of the state’s incentives to BMW for investing an additional $400 million in its South Carolina operations and adding 400 new jobs, the state provided $40 million to equip the Campbell Graduate Engineering Center and build BMW’s Information Technology Research Center.
“Innovators lead,” said Dr. Helmut Leube, BMW Manufacturing Co. president. “We see this project as a catalyst for other research universities.”
BMW Manufacturing on Campus The United States leads the world in information technology research, so it was logical that BMW became the campus’ first non-academic tenant with the Information Technology Research Center.
The mission of BMW’s IT Research Center is to develop the required methods and tools that will be used in the product development process, the manufacturing process, in the vehicle, and in the service process.
“The automotive information-technology software development process has become more complex,” said Leube. “The research center will help BMW stay ahead with the development and integration of systems within the vehicle and also retain the high standards of performance and reliability essential for BMW vehicle functions. It makes sense to place the center here so that students can work with product development and manufacturing research teams.”
BMW’s IT Research Center will house laboratories where research will be conducted on prototype vehicles, open office areas with information technology lab spaces to be shared with partnering companies, secured research areas and an incubator space.
Ground will be broken for BMW’s IT Research Center in the first quarter of 2004 with completion slated for late 2005.
Construction of the Campbell Graduate Engineering Center is expected to begin in second quarter 2004 with completion in late 2005. The first class of graduate students is expected to enter the program in 2006 and graduate in 2008.
“Success is only a foundation,” said Leube. “What we seek is sustainable success – not only in our products but for our entire industry. As we look to the future, Clemson’s graduate program will create an additional source for quality engineers for BMW as well as the automotive industry internationally.”