Kurfess Presented First BMW Endowed Chair in Manufacturing Integration

CLEMSON, S.C. - 02/22/2006

Clemson University today presented its first Endowed Chair Medallion to Thomas R. Kurfess, the BMW Endowed Chair in Manufacturing Integration. Kurfess joined the Clemson faculty in 2005 to lead the automotive engineering program that is the academic focus of Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and to serve as director of the Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Graduate Engineering Center on the CU-ICAR campus. He is a professor of mechanical engineering.

In addition to the medallion Kurfess received, Clemson University President James F. Barker presented a medallion to BMW and to other partners who made the endowment possible: Clemson’s department of mechanical engineering and College of Engineering, which house the program in automotive engineering; and the Clemson University Real Estate Foundation. A medallion also will be displayed in the Campbell Graduate Engineering Center on behalf of the citizens of South Carolina, in appreciation for the endowed chairs program made possible by the South Carolina Legislature’s Research Centers of Economic Excellence initiative.

Barker said the search for the right person to fill the BMW chair, and to lead Clemson’s new and unique academic program in automotive engineering, was not a simple task.

“We were looking for someone, after all, to lead a program unlike any other in the world in its approach to educating engineers to work in the complex systems and the global environment of today’s automotive industry,” he said.

“When Tom Kurfess agreed to join the CU-ICAR team, we knew we had found the perfect leader. His vision, his intelligence, his energy, his character and his passion for his work are evident to everyone with whom he comes in contact.”

Kurfess received his S.B., S.M. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from M.I.T. in 1986, 1987 and 1989, respectively. He also received an S.M. degree from M.I.T. in electrical engineering and computer science in 1988. Following graduation, he joined Carnegie Mellon University, where he rose to the rank of associate professor. In 1994, he moved to Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was promoted to professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering.

Kurfess will lead the academic program for a unique 250-acre campus that aspires to be the premier automotive and motorsports research and educational center in the world. The academic program will offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in automotive engineering, with emphasis in systems integration.

Kurfess presently serves as a participating guest at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the Precision Engineering Program. He has served as a special consultant of the United Nations to the Government of Malaysia in the area of applied mechatronics and manufacturing. His research work focuses on the design and development of high precision manufacturing and metrology systems.

Kurfess has received numerous honors, including the Association for Manufacturing Technology Charles F. Carter Jr. Advancing Manufacturing Award, National Science Foundation (NSF) Young Investigator Award, an NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Pi Tau Sigma Award, Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Young Manufacturing Engineer of the Year Award, the ASME Blackall Machine Tool and Gage Award, and the ASME Gustus L. Larson Award. He is a Fellow of the ASME.

Symbolic of the university’s most prestigious academic positions, the bronze Clemson University Endowed Chair Medallion bears a sculptured image of the university’s seal rising above the flat plane of the surrounding metal. The words “Endowed Chair” are engraved into the metal along the medallion’s top outer edge. Information specific to the respective Endowed Chair is laser-etched into the reverse side of each medallion. Attached to a ribbon of official Clemson colors, the medallion may be worn during university ceremonies, such as convocation and commencement, and is encased in a handsome shadow-box frame for display when not in use.

BMW Manufacturing Co. is a subsidiary of BMW AG in Munich, Germany. In addition to the South Carolina manufacturing facility, BMW’s North American subsidiaries include sales, marketing and financial services operations in the United States, Canada and throughout Latin America; an information technology consulting and systems integration firm in South Carolina; and a design firm in California.

Production Figures

  • 2018 Production - October
    • X3 Vehicles: 13,151
    • X4 Vehicles: 5,385
    • X5 Vehicles: 10,965
    • X6 Vehicles: 2,797
  • Number of jobs – 10,000
  • U.S. suppliers – 300
  • South Carolina suppliers– Over 40

Media Contacts

Sky Foster

BMW Manufacturing Co.
P. O. Box 11000
Spartanburg, SC 29304


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