Future Connections

Students work alongside career manufacturers to improve plant efficiencies

The whirring of pneumatic wrenches filled the Komatsu plant in Newberry, South Carolina, as four Clemson students made their way past workers assembling yellow forklifts. A woman noticed the students’ bright orange hard hats and greeted them with the two words every Clemson diehard likes to hear:
“Go Tigers!”
It was a warm welcome for a team that had made the 90-minute drive from campus to help Komatsu assess how it could reduce its energy use. The students were from Clemson’s Industrial Assessment Center, a program that takes engineering education out of the classroom and into manufacturing plants. The center’s energy-use assessments are free and come with the potential to save each participating company tens of thousands of dollars.
With 36 site visits in its portfolio, the center is now charging into its fourth year with 20 student interns eager to leave their mark on the world. Among them is Lakshana Nagaraj, who is working toward a master’s degree in industrial engineering.
“I think energy saving is the ‘in’ thing right now,” she said. “There is a lot happening with climate change and the environmental effects. We need to do something about it. This is the first step. Everyone can make an effort toward energy saving.”
The center’s teams have been fanning out across the state for three years to assess small- to mid-sized manufacturers. Based on their recommendations, companies have implemented around $2.3 million in savings. In energy terms, that’s equivalent to 50,000 barrels of oil, or the equivalent annual CO2 emissions of more than 4,000 cars.
While the assessments have helped companies reduce their environmental impact, they have also provided students with real-world experience and connections with employers, said Michael Carbajales-Dale, the center’s director and an assistant professor of environmental engineering and earth sciences.
Clemson launched the center in October 2016 after receiving nearly $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It is among 28 Industrial Assessments Centers nationwide, cited by the White House in an October 2018 report as an example of a federal program that “contributed to the progress in manufacturing education, training and workforce development.” Clemson’s center is made up mostly of undergraduate engineering students who work up to 14 hours a week as paid interns under the supervision of faculty members.
To be eligible for an assessment, companies must have fewer than 500 employees at the plant site, gross annual sales below $100 million and annual energy bills between $100,000 and $2.5 million. The plant must be within 150 miles of an Industrial Assessment Center. Most of the Clemson assessments take place in South Carolina, although the center’s coverage area also includes parts of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and southwestern Virginia.
On the Komatsu site visit, the team looked for ways to save money throughout the plant, from the cranes and compressed-air system to the lighting and heating. Ben Snelson, an industrial engineering major, said that when he first started doing assessments, he hardly knew what a manufacturing plant looked like. By the time he went to Komatsu, he had been on several site visits and had an eye for energy efficiency. It was good that many of the workers were using cordless drills powered by batteries and saving the compressed-air drills for the bigger jobs, he said.
“When you have a ton of running tools and a lot of lines and a lot of moving things, the hoses can get leaks really easily,” Snelson said. “They’re using batteries, so it’s cheaper. Compressed air is expensive.”
All signs point to a bright future for the center. Carbajales-Dale said he was working to find new sites to assess and for new ways of connecting clients with various pools of money, such as low-interest loans and rebates, that may be available to help make energy-efficiency upgrades.
“It’s not just in-and-out,” he said. “We’re connecting them with resources that can help get the job done.”

New Online Degree Designed to Meet Big Data Demands

For the third year in a row, the number one job in the United States is data scientist, according to Glassdoor, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 11.5 million data science job openings by 2026.
Business leaders in an array of industries — health care, manufacturing, finance, transportation, energy, defense and more — are finding it more difficult to hire talent for data analytics than any other position, largely because these lucrative careers, paying up to $150,000 per year, require an advanced education.
To meet this demand, Clemson is launching a new Master of Science in Data Science and Analytics online degree this summer for working professionals. Faculty from the College of Business and College of Science consulted with industry experts to design a curriculum consisting of five courses in mathematical and statistical sciences and five courses in business analytics and management.
“Students will be taught how to perform proper data analysis and then apply the results to datadriven managerial decisions,” said Ellen Breazel, senior lecturer in the school of mathematical and statistical sciences. Breazel also said the degree’s cohort model, which allows each incoming class to take classes together, will enhance collaboration and interaction in all their courses.
“It’s also very conducive for companies that want to send a contingent of their employees to the program at one time,” said Russ Purvis, associate professor of business analytics and information systems.
For more information about the program, visit www.clemson.edu/graduate/academics/ms-dsa/index.html .

Magic Comes to Men of Color

Magic Johnson comes to Men of ColorFOR FOUR YEARS, Clemson’s Men of Color National Summit has featured an impressive lineup of speakers. Leaders from business, government, athletics and academics have spoken to students about their potential and pathways to success. This year, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined the all-star lineup of speakers March 3-4 in Greenville.
Johnson brought his inspiring story of athletic and entrepreneurial success to the high school students in attendance, including members of Clemson’s college readiness program, the Tiger Alliance. He joined keynote speakers and entertainment, including Alberto Gonzales, 82nd U.S. attorney general; Jim Murren, chair and CEO of MGM Resorts International; Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, host of American Ninja Warrior and former NFL player; Robert E. Johnson, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; Johnathan Holifield, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ Domestic Policy Council; Peter Villegas, vice president and head of Coca-Cola’s Office of Latin Affairs; and Victor Robertson of Three Mo’ Tenors.
Lee Gill, chief inclusion officer and special assistant to the president for inclusion and equity at Clemson, sees the lineup of speakers as the embodiment of the summit’s goal: “Our keynote and breakout speakers are testaments of what happens when the opportunity gap is overcome and organizations commit themselves to diversity and inclusion.”
Tiger Alliance students are part of a college readiness experience that includes relationships with mentors, college visits, college-prep workshops and attendance at the Men of Color Summit. The Tiger Alliance program kicked off at the summit in 2017 and has already shown what is possible when African American and Latino students are empowered and engaged in their education; seniors from the 2019 Tiger Alliance cohort had a 98 percent graduation rate.

Honoring the Best

 Mary Beth Kurz receives Class of ’39 Award for Excellence

Clements and KurzCLEMSON FACULTY have recognized associate professor of industrial engineering Mary Beth Kurz as one of the very best among them by awarding her the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence.
The award, endowed by the class of 1939 to commemorate its 50th anniversary in 1989, is presented annually to a faculty member whose outstanding contributions for a five-year period have been judged by fellow faculty to represent the highest achievement of service to the student body, University, and community, state or nation. The recipient also becomes an honorary member of the class of 1939.
Calling Kurz a “complete professor” with a heart for service in nominating her for the award, William Ferrell, Fluor International Supply Chain Professor and associate dean of the Graduate School, wrote Kurz is “an excellent faculty member who has balanced success across teaching, research and securing funding.”
Kurz said she was humbled to learn she would receive the award: “Many of my campus heroes are in the class of 1939, and I am honored that my colleagues have elected to have me join this class. I feel the weight of the deeds of the original members of the class of 1939 and hope to live up to their reputation.”
Kurz, who came to Clemson in 2001, said she believes that being a faculty member is a long-term commitment between her and the University. “Being a faculty member who stays at an institution and grows with the institution requires engagement on both sides,” she said. “Some people are very happy and successful having a career focused on their labs, their students, their research. I like to engage with people in lots of ways, and so I have developed relationships with people through various activities, like college-level computing or curriculum committees, or University-level activities, like curriculum committees or Faculty Senate.”
“Students — both undergraduates and graduates — indicate she is an excellent classroom teacher,” Ferrell wrote. “Her approach is always to lead by example where the students know that she is working alongside them, not telling them what to do.”
Kurz’s research, for which she has garnered more than $4.8 million in funding, focuses on tactical decision-making in assembly systems.