A New Generation of Army Vehicles

Automotive autonomy technology is changing economies and global industries — and is also a driving force behind military modernization. Bringing these self-driving vehicles to life on- and off-road requires new concepts to be tested quickly, efficiently and cost effectively — all of which happen through virtual prototyping. This key enabler for autonomy is the focus behind a new $18 million center housed at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research and a research partnership with the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center.

As founding director of the Virtual Prototyping of Ground Systems Center, Zoran Filipi will lead more than 65 Clemson faculty across seven engineering departments on the multiyear research partnership to develop virtual prototyping tools supporting the rapid transformation of U.S. Army fleets. The research will be focused on autonomy-enabled ground vehicles, including digital engineering, next-generation propulsion and energy systems, and manned and unmanned teaming in unknown off-road environments. Research activities will also take place on Clemson’s main campus and will include learning opportunities for students at all levels.

As the research develops, the team will build a physical mock-up of an optionally manned, noncombat, off-road ground vehicle. In the project’s final phase, discoveries and breakthrough innovations from the center will be fabricated and tested via Deep Orange, the University’s long-running educational prototyping program. The Deep Orange program takes automotive engineering students through a two-year product development process that culminates in a fully functional concept. The program encourages learning by doing, transdisciplinary teamwork, leadership and project management skills to best prepare students for the workforce. Deep Orange has been sponsored by industry leaders such as AVX, BMW, ExxonMobil, EY, Ford, GM, Honda R&D Americas, Mazda, MINI and Toyota.

The Virtual Prototyping of Ground Systems Center is designed to accelerate the development and validation of high impact technologies, acting as a catalyst for economic growth. Driven by fundamental research, the center supports South Carolina’s economic development efforts, industry innovation priorities and the development of a highly skilled workforce.

“This type of work is the driving force behind why South Carolina invested in our idea for the CU-ICAR campus,” said Clemson President Jim Clements, “and we are grateful for the legislature’s continued support and the hard work of Rep. Clyburn and Sen. Graham to bring this project to life. It will pave the way for opportunities for our faculty, our students and our state.” 

 

Training Successful Problem-solvers

Analytical chemistry professor Ken Marcus used to call his group of doctoral researchers “the Tinkerers.” His group develops analytical instrumentation, something he says takes a unique mindset and is attractive to federal laboratories and scientific organizations. Nearly half of that group of soon-to-be 41 Ph.D. graduates works in national laboratories, such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They’re looking for problem-solvers,” Marcus said.

The latest problem-solver is Tyler Williams, the second Clemson chemist in three years to receive a National Nuclear Security Administration Graduate Fellowship, designed to develop the next generation of national security leaders.

Marcus said that to be a successful tinkerer and problem-solver, there has to be a connection between mind, gut and hands:

“Those three things have to be in sync. You have to know enough and understand what’s going on in order to react on a gut level. Then, your hands do the work. Sometimes things work out as you planned, sometimes they don’t and sometimes serendipity is your best friend. If you do something in the lab and something remarkable happens, but you don’t [recognize] it in your gut and in your head, then it’s lost.”

In June, Williams will join the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which enhances national security through the military application of nuclear science. He will work in the administration’s enriched uranium modernization group, which focuses on modernizing the nation’s enriched uranium capabilities and infrastructure to support NNSA’s defense, nonproliferation and naval reactor missions.

 

Teaming Up for Innovation

Clemson will play a significant role in advancing the nation’s environmental, energy, and national security research and workforce development efforts as a member of the Battelle Savannah River Alliance that will now manage the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Clemson faculty have worked with scientists at SRNL for three decades to study solutions to nuclear waste storage, advanced materials, environmental protection and energy security. The long-standing relationship has resulted in numerous internships for undergraduate and graduate students who have conducted research with SRNL scientists and Clemson faculty. The new partnership is expected to bring even more opportunities. 

“This historic partnership expands on our world-class workforce development efforts and opens a pipeline of scientific discovery and innovation that should benefit the entire state of South Carolina,” said Clemson president Jim Clements. “I’d like to thank Gov. McMaster and our state leaders for supporting this endeavor that will provide unique opportunities for our faculty and students while uplifting the state’s economy.”

As a member of the BSRA team, Clemson experts will provide technical support on environmental remediation, waste management, materials science, computational modeling, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity and numerous other research topics.

“Workforce development will be central to our work at SRNL,” said Tanju Karanfil, Clemson’s vice president for research who will serve on a board of directors overseeing management of the lab. “This close partnership with Battelle and SRNL will nurture a skilled workforce that will be ready to lead the energy sector into the future.” 

The contract DOE awarded to BSRA includes a five-year base with five one-year options. The estimated value of the contract is $3.8 billion over the course of 10 years if all options are exercised. Other members of the alliance are Georgia Tech, South Carolina State University, University of Georgia and University of South Carolina, as well as small business partners Longenecker and Associates and TechSource. 

This marks the first time the U.S. Department of Energy has issued a management contract for the lab separate from the Savannah River Site contract. BSRA is led and wholly owned by Battelle, which already has a management role at seven other DOE national labs. 

 

Tackling Drug Shortages

Drug shortages have plagued health care for decades. Even prior to COVID-19, hospitals incurred more than $400 million in labor costs and alternative treatment options due to national generic drug shortages, especially for those administered via injection.

And research shows shortages lead to things like delaying critical procedures, rationing doses based on supply levels and prescribing suboptimal treatment plans with substitute drugs — resulting in adverse patient outcomes.

Manufacturing tops the list as the most common cause of shortages, pushing those in the pharmaceutical supply chain to look for new ways to increase productivity — and thanks to a partnership between Clemson and Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, a solution may be on the horizon.

Led by Associate Professor Yue “Sophie” Wang, the project combines robotics and medicine to ensure sterility, quality, safety and efficiency in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Her team worked in partnership with South Carolina-based Nephron to develop a flexible, easy to use, open-source benchtop robot that can fill, cap and seal sterile syringes.

“Pharmaceutical collaborative robots is a new and quickly growing research area,” said Wang, who serves as the Warren H. Owen Duke Energy Associate Professor of Engineering. “By combining our expertise with unique applications in pharmaceutical manufacturing, we hope to benefit both patients and the industry through increased efficiency in syringe manufacturing.”

The project supports the Nephron 503B Outsourcing Facility, which provides sterile, pre-filled medications to hospitals and medical facilities across America. Pre-filled syringes help control costs by minimizing drug overfill and minimizing microbial contamination.

“Anything we can do to improve drug shortages, that’s just good for patients,” said Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy. “It’s a very big crisis, not just in the U.S. but globally as well.”

The partnership was developed through Clemson’s Office of Corporate Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives. The next phase of the project is further development, starting with the completion of a purpose-built clean room on Clemson’s campus. Kennedy hopes to commercialize the benchtop system for use inside health care facilities across the country.

Clemson and Nephron are at the forefront of a larger trend shaping pharmaceutical manufacturing today. The integration of automation, AI and robotics is catalyzing the industry, and rising demand paired with major market disruptions, such as COVID-19, are only accelerating change. The pharmaceutical robotic systems market is expected to nearly double to $119.46 million from just five years ago, driven by innovations in packaging, inspection and lab work, according to one report.

Part of what has made the project successful is the complementary strengths Nephron and Clemson have brought to the table. Wang needed an insider’s perspective on pharmaceutical manufacturing to understand the exact requirements and processes involved in sterile syringe production. In addition to Clemson’s research talent, Nephron was also drawn to the steady stream of talented graduates who could hit the ground running at their facilities. 

 

Delphine Dean Honored with Class of ’39 Award

 

Faculty have named Delphine Dean, the Ron and Jane Lindsay Family Innovation Professor of Bioengineering, one of the very best among them by awarding her the Class of ’39 Award for Excellence.

Endowed by the Class of 1939 to commemorate its 50th anniversary, the award is presented annually to a faculty member whose contributions for a five-year period have been judged by peers to represent the highest achievement of service to the student body, University, and community, state or nation. Recipients also become honorary members of the Class of 1939.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean set up Clemson’s first high-complexity clinical diagnostics lab to run all of the University’s COVID-19 screening tests. The lab runs more than 3,000 tests a day, which includes all of Clemson’s COVID-19 surveillance testing as well as testing for the community.

“Dr. Dean is at the forefront of international scientific trends in COVID-19 saliva testing, a skill which has benefited Clemson University students, faculty and the community,” Terri Bruce, academic program director of the Light Imaging Facility, and Windsor Westbrook Sherrill, associate vice president for health research, wrote in their nomination letter.

 

“Dr. Dean is at the forefront of international scientific trends in COVID-19 saliva testing, a skill which has benefited Clemson University students, faculty and the community.”

 

Dean’s work during the pandemic is just the most recent reason she has been recognized. With a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she heads a lab that conducts studies focused on understanding mechanics and interactions of biological systems. Dean also works on several applied translational design projects primarily aimed at enabling health care in low-resource areas in the U.S., Tanzania and India.

Dean currently mentors more than 50 undergraduates in the Creative Inquiry program who work on a variety of projects, from understanding the effects of ionizing radiation on tissue to developing medical technology for the developing world.

“I am honored to be a part of the Class of ’39,” said Dean. “It’s amazing to be a part of such an illustrious group. The fact that service to the University and beyond is encouraged and celebrated at Clemson is part of the reason I’m always proud to say that I’m part of the Clemson Family.” 

 

Bridging the Gap

 

In an effort to bridge the gap between talent and opportunity, GE Gas Power announced it is establishing an annual scholarship to support underrepresented minorities and women on campus — the largest in the history of Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.

The scholarship, named the GE John Lammas Annual Scholarship, honors the engineering legend who was instrumental in changing jet travel and power generation during his 35 years at GE. Lammas passed away in April 2020.

In addition to 40 annual $8,000 scholarships, GE Gas Power’s investment — totaling $1 million over three years — will establish two pilot programs within the Division of Inclusion and Equity designed to create pathways to college for middle and high school students.

“GE Gas Power is committed to inclusion and diversity, as we know that different viewpoints, perspectives, life experiences and skills drive better team performance,” said John Intile, vice president of GE Gas Power Engineering. “GE’s ongoing and accelerated partnership with Clemson University is key to our success. It will help us create a diverse talent pipeline that will continue to propel a more inspirational and inclusive workplace with a relentless pursuit of innovation for a better tomorrow.”

Each of the GE John Lammas Scholarships is open to current or future CECAS students majoring in general engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, computer information systems, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science and engineering. Student recipients will be eligible for GE’s internships, co-ops and full-time leadership programs.

 

Clemson Senior Wins Prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship

 

Venkata “Anish” Chaluvadi, an Honors College senior from Simpsonville, S.C., majoring in materials science and engineering, has become the first Clemson student ever named a Gates Cambridge Scholar, one of only 24 chosen nationwide for the prestigious postgraduate award. Established through a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the scholarship fully funds postgraduate study and research at the University of Cambridge. Recipients are chosen for academic accomplishments as well as leadership and commitment to improve the lives of others.

Chaluvadi’s interest in sustainable material solutions for environmental problems was developed from his understanding of the rural South as well as his travels to India, where his parents were born and raised. He will pursue graduate study in nanoscience and nanotechnology, with an emphasis in computational modeling.

 

Summer 2021 Alumni Authors

James F. Parnell, William C. Alexander Ph.D. ’80 & Frances B. Parnell
Attracting Birds in the Carolinas (UNC Press) is an in-depth look at how Carolinians can attract birds, from the mountains to the coast.

Shelley Burchfield M ’14
The Earth Remains (Touchpoint Press) is a historical fiction novel set in 1860 near the site of the Fort Hill plantation. The story follows farmer Polly Burgiss, who must face her past and future through both the murders of her young brothers and her own role in slavery.

Richard L. Cassidy ’93
Greatest of These Is Always Love (Limelight Publishing) is a book of self-reflection, grappling with racism and current race relations in America alongside Cassidy’s own experience and Christian faith.

Laurie Devore ’11
A Better Bad Idea (Macmillan) is Devore’s third young adult novel, which tells the story of Evelyn Peters, a young woman stuck in a small town and desperate for a way out.

Marty Duckenfield M ’81
Blind Luck: A Year Abroad (self-published) is a personal memoir of the author’s experience studying at Oxford University during her junior year of college in 1965-66.

George Plopper & Diana Bebek Ivankovic M ’91, Ph.D. ’95
Principles of Cell Biology, 3rd Edition (Jones and Bartlett Learning) is a biology textbook that takes students and instructors through 14 comprehensible principles alongside topics such as evolution, natural selection and artificial selection on the cellular level.

Emily B. Martin ’10, M ’12
Floodpath (Harper Voyager) is book two of the Outlaw Road duology, finishing up the story of the Sunshield Bandit and her allies as they traverse through the young adult fantasy wilderness first inroduced in Martin’s Creatures of Light trilogy.

Nate Miller ’11Jenesis Johnson ’17
Simply Sustainable Landscapes (self-published) will take you on a horticultural journey through history and design, specifically with edible and native plants of the Southeast.

Susan Moresi M ’97
Matilda Gundalini (self-published) follows Matilda, a middle-aged, career-focused woman who comes face to face with workplace harassment.

Michael Puldy ’84
Himalaya Memories (self-published) is a photobook chronicling Puldy’s travels and experiences in the snowy mountains of Bhutan and Nepal.

Colleen Warren Thomas ’13
Beautiful Skin (self-published) is a children’s book that uses the story of a biracial girl to help teach children about race, overcoming racism and diversity.

Bryson Thompson Sr. ’07
How Angels Are Made (self-published) is Thompson’s first children’s book, which explores themes of sickness, loss, grief and healing within a family.

Ron Rash M ’79
In the Valley (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) is a collection of 10 “searing” short stories and a novella that picks up where Serena, one of Rash’s most well-known novels, left off.

Jamey Rootes ’89
The Winning Game Plan (Elite Online Publishing) is a masterclass in leading a business to success. Rootes draws on his time as Houston Texans president to offer advice on management, culture and handling adversity.

Eugene Schlaman ’73
Iowa Bike Towns (Gatekeeper Press) takes readers on a journey through the more than 800 Iowa towns that are on the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, complete with facts and stories. 

 

A Sterling Partnership

This past year, four large reproductions of historic quilts were installed on the exterior of Greenville’s Sterling Community Center. The original quilts are owned by residents of the historic Sterling neighborhood located adjacent to Greenville’s West End. The quilt on the front of the building is an example of quilts that provided coded information for enslaved persons navigating the Underground Railroad.

The four art pieces were produced by professor of landscape architecture and urban design Tom Schurch, his graduate students, and volunteers from the Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail program, the latest part of a years-long collaboration with the Sterling neighborhood and the Sterling Land Trust. A grant from the Clemson Architectural Foundation funded the work. In addition, Greenville County Parks Recreation and Tourism granted permission for and is completing installation.

The Sterling neighborhood dates to the late 1800s and is anchored by the Sterling Community Center, located on the site of Sterling High School, the first African-American high school in the Upstate. The building was largely destroyed by fire in the 1960s, and the community center is located in the remaining part of the school.

The Sterling Land Trust was formed in 2010 by residents of the neighborhood in collaboration with Sterling High School alumni, such as Mack Lockhart, who had moved back to Greenville after a successful career in Richmond. “I moved back home and looked at this area and saw a need,” he said. “Sterling alumni — we bleed Sterling blue and white – just like Clemson fans.”

James Thompson, another Sterling High alumnus and current president of the trust, agreed. “We tried to step in and reshape the future of that community so that the history won’t die out when we’re gone,” he said. “The role of the trust is to maintain the integrity of affordable housing for people who might not be otherwise able to live in this perimeter of the city.” The trust has partnered with Bon Secours St. Francis, Clemson and “a host of other organizations that have stepped up to help us,” he said.

Deb Long, director of Healthy Community Initiatives at Bon Secours St. Francis, first contacted Schurch in 2015. “Tom and his students have been working with the land trust ever since,” she said. “The land trust is a great group of committed individuals who love the organization and what they can do on behalf of the community. The thing I’m most proud about is that they built their first house, and they have a tenant who needed affordable housing.”

Schurch and his students have worked on a variety of projects in partnership with the trust and the Healthy Community Initiatives, including the quilt artwork, designs for a planned memorial commemorating Sterling High School and drawing up numerous possible plans for neighborhood development — taking into account safety, walkability, street character, common spaces and a sense of shared community — using design to try to encourage a return to the village mentality of the old Sterling neighborhood that was anchored by the high school.

“With respect to the memorial,” said Schurch, “we worked in a partnership. It was not something done from the Clemson end and given to the trust. It was something we worked on together. That project epitomizes how we have worked together over the years with James and Mack and others. They’ve joined us in the studio at Clemson to review work, to work with the students and with me.”

That partnership and getting to know and listen to people “who will inhabit your design” was important for Emily Kelly M ’18. “It’s important to be innovative and push ahead with unconventional and exciting ideas. But the process is best when in parallel with an ongoing dialogue with the community.” She now works for WRT in San Francisco, a firm with a similar approach of using engagement to drive the design process. “Being exposed to this type of community design in school can be crucial for shaping a personal design ethic that carries over into professional life,” she said.

Schurch says that he tries to instill in this professional degree-granting program “that the definition of professionalism is  not just about business ethics, but really addressing the community and being a member of a community and giving to that community in the best way possible. “In a way, it gets back to what it means to be a professional — applying the concept of pro bono — doing things for good. Hopefully that’s a lesson our students are learning.”

 

“That artwork will be there long after we are gone,” said Lockhart. “It’s not something weather is going to tear up, and it’s going to enhance the neighborhood and draw all people of the city there. And it has ties right back to Clemson.”

 

Students like Hannah Slyce, who worked on the project in the fall of 2019, are learning that lesson. “It was really informative and humbling to work with James and Mack who have dedicated their lives to providing affordable, high quality homes for the Sterling community,” she said. “This project really opened my eyes to what it means to do true community design work and gave me an experience I will carry with me into my future career.”

The trust is focused on improving the Sterling neighborhood; completing the quilt projects is one tangible evidence of that. “That artwork will be there long after we are gone,” said Lockhart. “It’s not something weather is going to tear up, and it’s going to enhance the neighborhood and draw all people of the city there. And it has ties right back to Clemson.”

Unmarked Graves Found at Woodland Cemetery

Completed ground-penetrating radar testing of Clemson’s Woodland Cemetery has located more than 600 possible unmarked graves throughout much of the cemetery. Some are at the crest of the hill inside a fenced area, where members of the John C. Calhoun family were buried starting in 1837.

The number of graves coupled with the locations suggest the possibility that some may predate the period when the land was part of Calhoun’s Fort Hill Plantation from 1830 to 1865. Many of the graves are thought to be those of enslaved people who worked at the plantation and later as sharecroppers and Black laborers, including convicted individuals involved in the construction of Clemson College from 1890 to 1915.

Lawrence Conyers, a published authority on GPR and professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Denver, reviewed the methodologies of the team hired by Clemson to do the survey work and agreed with their interpretations. The University provided additional technical information to Conyers about soil and rock conditions on the site, as well as GPR readings taken recently for comparison at the African American cemetery at Hopewell, a known burial ground from that era approximately a mile away.

GPR work in late July initially revealed the possible locations of more than 200 unmarked graves in Woodland Cemetery believed to date back more than a century. Subsequent testing in other areas of the cemetery located additional possible grave sites primarily on the western, northwestern and northern slopes, as well as many in an area to the south and southeast previously identified as the “Site of Unknown Burials” and where the school installed fencing.

Clemson has installed additional signage at the cemetery, closed the area to vehicle traffic and restricted public access hours.

Rhondda Thomas, the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson whose research and teaching focuses on early African American literature and culture, is working with the local African American community. She formed a Community Engagement Board with members representing the Clemson/Central, Anderson, Pendleton and Seneca areas to help guide Clemson in the preservation and memorialization of the site. She also is working with the local community to identify family members who may have ancestors buried in the unmarked graves.

University historian Paul Anderson leads the research work. His team’s findings are published to a website Clemson created to document the University’s role in Woodland Cemetery and give voice to the African Americans who are buried there.