Brent Beason first traveled to Slater Mill on a sales call with his father in 2000. In 2016, with the mill facing closure, Beason returned to purchase it, saving 57 jobs and creating new ones. His company is one of many breathing new life into the textile industry by sharpening its focus on advanced materials.
Ensuring the health, safety and well being of others via the roads you drive or the buildings you enter isn’t just a day job for Jason and Hesha Nesbitt Gamble, but a desire they’ve each pursued since teenagers. The couple are stand-out licensed professional engineers who found their route to Clemson by way of high school internships, which also set into motion a path to each other.
As an exam development engineer for National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) in Seneca, Jason is one of only five people in the country commissioned with managing the creation of 25 national licensing exams that examinees take to become licensed in 17 different engineering disciplines. Jason is tasked with managing four of those 25 exams. Hesha serves as county engineer for Greenville where she oversees 77 employees as well as the engineering and maintenance of all county roads, approximately 1,760 miles serving 450,000 residents.
“We take that job very seriously,” said Hesha. “If there’s a problem, we need to fix it. Greenville is my community so of course I want the best for my community.”
“I’ve never had a job that didn’t affect people in some way,” chimed in Jason. “What I do now at NCEES affects the future of the profession and affects what (engineering) is going to be for the next generation.”
Even beyond technical skills, the pair says honing soft skills like communication and public speaking prepares their teams to execute a project efficiently. “You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t effectively communicate or explain something, you’re not going to be successful,” said Jason. “It’s about knowing how to interact with people. I’ve worked with Ph.D.’s to someone with only a third-grade education, but we all had to work together in order to get a job done.”
Those so-called “soft skills” were picked up in Clemson classrooms, where the two met each other through study groups for upper-level undergraduate courses. The couple praise their time at Clemson for making them effective engineers today. They especially credit the PEER program for many of their successes.
“We bring engineers and experts from all over the country to do a job, and to be able to relate to each of them individually and not just professionally, just to be able to hold a conversation, Clemson was where I learned to do that,” said Jason. “I have no doubt it makes me better at my job to be able to relate to people and just work with them regardless of where they’re from.” Jason and Hesha, despite their busy careers, find the time to be “All In” raising their five-year-old son, Justus.
Matt Doyle, a 2016 engineering graduate from Guilford, Connecticut, never dreamed of attending an out-of-state school. However, not long after he decided to apply to Clemson, Matt was notified that he had been awarded a significant amount of financial aid. Thanks to many generous donors like Chuck and Sue Fish, Matt no longer viewed Clemson as just a Southern university where people wear lots of orange. It was now his future.
Chuck Fish graduated from Clemson in 1982 with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, and in 2012, he and his wife, Sue, made a commitment to establish an endowed fund, ultimately to leave their legacy and provide College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science students from out of state with a wonderful college experience. This commitment originated with the Chuck ’82 and Sue Fish Annual Engineering Scholarship, which they have funded over a four-year period.
Prior to establishing the scholarship, Chuck reconnected with one of his classmates, Doug Gray ’82, who serves as a development officer for the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science. “Because he was in development and in engineering, we talked about doing a scholarship. He was the one who really helped us put it together,” said Chuck. “It’s been great having someone Chuck’s known since college be a part of this with us,” said Sue.
The couple has had the privilege of seeing the impact their commitment has made on students, including Matt Doyle. “He is a wonderful young man, and he was so grateful in having this because the scholarship we did was an engineering scholarship for a student who was out of state,” said Chuck. The couple and Matt have met many times and developed a friendship, ultimately making the scholarship even more meaningful.
Chuck and Sue’s financial support has made it more affordable for Matt to attend school in South Carolina than in his home state of Connecticut. “Without support like they’ve given me, I don’t think I’d be here. I don’t know where I would be in terms of financials. College is a big undertaking,” said Matt.
“One of the coolest things was that Matt’s mother wrote us a letter. It was the most beautiful letter thanking us for our financial support of her son. It really meant a lot when she wrote us to let us know how much it meant to their family,” said Sue.
Matt admits he has grown a lot in his technical abilities as a civil engineering major and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “I’ve also grown in my relationships with other people including friends, teachers and, through internships, with other professionals. Overall, I feel really well prepared with moving on into the real world,” he said. And moving on, he is. He has accepted a job in Raleigh, N.C., as a general contractor with one of the nation’s largest construction firms, Brasfield & Gorrie, where he interned during the summer of 2015.
Seven Clemson students have received graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation, and five others received honorable mention awards in the national competition. The NSF offers three-year graduate research fellowships to students in science, engineering, mathematics, technology and some social sciences. Each year, college seniors and early graduate students are invited to apply. Out of 17,000 applicants nationwide, 2,000 students won the prestigious awards.
These Clemson students received graduate research fellowships:
• Ryan Borem of Easley is a U. S. Army combat veteran and Ph.D. student in bioengineering. His research focuses on the development of a tissue engineering scaffold to assist in the repair and regeneration of intervertebral discs in people suffering from back pain.
• Michelle Greenough of Davis, Calif., is a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering. She plans to develop a multilayer ceramic membrane to separate and then capture carbon dioxide gas. The aim of her research is to help reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
• Nora Harris of Rock Hill is a senior industrial engineering student. Her research will investigate how to encourage increased sustainability in the design process of buildings and infrastructure. She will begin a master’s program in civil engineering at Virginia Tech in the fall.
• Allison Jansto of Harmony, Pa., is a graduate student in chemical engineering. Her research focuses on investigating the relationship between the nanostructure, mechanical properties and performance of functional materials with a goal of better understanding the transport and mechanical properties of materials used in fuel cells and batteries.
• Catherine McGough of Charleston, W.Va., is a graduate student in engineering and science education. Her research goal is to identify how undergraduate engineering students’ future goals and motivations relate to how they solve problems in class. These findings will allow instructors to improve and personalize problem-solving instruction.
• Emily Thompson of Rochester, N.Y., is a senior physics major. Her research deals with particle physics. She is pursuing graduate work at the University of Bonn in Germany.
• Jennifer Wilson of Charlotte, N.C., is a senior majoring in plant and environmental science. Her research proposal focused on understanding how plants detect and respond to attack by fungal pathogens. Next year, she will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in plant pathology at Cornell University. Her future research will focus on the transmission of plant viruses by aphids.
Chuck Fish graduated from Clemson in 1982 with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, and in 2012, he and his wife, Sue, made a commitment to establish an endowed fund, ultimately to leave their legacy and provide College of Engineering and Science students from out-of-state with a wonderful college experience. This commitment originated with the Chuck ’82 and Sue Fish Annual Engineering Scholarship, which they have been funding over a four-year period.
Mentoring others, especially those who may not realize their potential, has been a lifelong passion for Serita Acker. Those who know her weren’t surprised that she received the 2015 Calder D. Ehrmann Outstanding Individual Award at the 11th Annual Upstate Diversity Leadership Awards dinner. The dinner is hosted by the Richard W. Riley Institute® of Government, Politics and Public Leadership at Furman University and the Greenville Chamber, with support from other Upstate chambers. The event recognizes those who have shown leadership in promoting diversity in the Upstate. Acker was nominated by colleagues but was completely surprised by the honor.
“It was such a great honor to receive it. Calder recently passed, and this award is in his honor and the work he has done. It was very exciting for me. It was such a complete surprise,” said Acker.
Acker is in her 16th year as director of Clemson’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, which provides support and resources for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Additionally, Acker oversees WISE-sponsored camps and programs to introduce elementary, middle school and high school girls to careers in STEM.
Acker’s outreach in the community is not limited to helping young women. She has worked with the University’s Staff Development Program that trains staff members for professional and personal growth. She has also served as a board member for the Rape Crisis Center to develop initiatives that assist survivors.
In addition, Acker was named one of 10 U.S. individuals selected as a mentor for the 2014-2016 MentorLinks cohort, a program of the American Association of Community Colleges and National Science Foundation that advances technological education. She travels to Texas State Technical College to assist the school in programs that encourage and support Latina women in automotive technology. Acker was also honored by Women of Color magazine with the 2014 College-Level Promotion of Education award. Acker said her Clemson studies were the perfect preparation.
“My Clemson degree in human resource development has done exactly what it was supposed to do. The degree is about training people and helping them develop. My Clemson experience as a student has helped me as a staff member. I love that my journey has been ‘in these hills’ and preparing students for great careers.”
Recently Acker received certification as a Global Career Development Facilitator, where she’ll focus on educating people about STEM career opportunities.
“I like to be that person who bridges the gap between the community and the University,” Acker said. “I want to educate people, encourage people and help them fulfill their dreams.”
It wasn’t your typical groundbreaking, but Jonathan Zucker certainly broke ground with a giant black and yellow excavator, marking the official beginning of construction of the $21.5-million Zucker Family Graduate Education Center in North Charleston.
Located at the Clemson University Restoration Institute on the site of the former naval shipyard, the approximately 70,000- square-foot center will offer master’s and Ph.D. degrees in engineering when its doors open in 2016. The center is expected to grow to accommodate approximately 200 students, filling a critical need for engineers for corporations such as Duke Energy, where 60 percent of its engineering workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next five years.
President Clements joined Anita, Jonathan and Laura Zucker for the ceremony that was attended by more than 75 Charleston County School District middle school STEM students. As Clements spoke to the students through a bullhorn while standing next to the excavator, he said, “Here we have the Hunley submarine in the Warren Lasch Conservation Center — that focuses on our past. Over there we have the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center — that deals with the present. And today we break ground on the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center, and that’s all about the future.”
Upon completion, the Zucker Family Graduate Education Center will serve as the academic anchor in the CURI applied technology park. In addition to students and faculty, office space in the center will be leased to industry looking to engage with faculty, students and researchers.
Long-time Clemson supporters, Anita Zucker and Jonathan Zucker helped fund the center that will bear their family’s name. Anita Zucker explained why she wanted to help make this center possible. “I’m passionate about STEM. I’m passionate about education. And I’m passionate about our region and what’s happening here,” she said. “For years our business community has complained that we don’t have enough graduate-level courses in engineering. Well, I feel like that call will finally be answered with this new center.”
The Zucker family gift is part of the $1 billion Will to Lead for Clemson campaign.
If you go to the website for Clemson’s Machining & Technical Services, you can read about the many capabilities of this department in the College of Engineering and Science. Seven bullet points list everything from drafting and machining to plastic fabrication and welding.
They might consider trimming that page down to just six words:
We can make just about anything.
That’s what director of instructional and research support Phil Landreth ’84 will tell you, backed up by his staff of engineers, artisans and craftsmen who work in the basement of Freeman Hall, packed with high-powered equipment and projects. “It’s like walking into Monster Garage every morning,” Landreth says with a grin, referring to the Discovery Channel show. There are no chrome dashboards or classic interiors, but the challenges they meet each day and the solutions they create have life-changing implications.
Say hello to the four managers of the shop — Truman Nicholson, Jeff Holliday, Brad Poore and Charlie McDonald ’04. Get them talking about their many projects, and their faces light up as they begin to tick them off:
- Joist hangers and hurricane clips for the Wind Load Test Facility
- Heart valve bioreactor and part of an artificial knee for biomedical engineering
- A component of the buoys in the Intelligent RiverTM project
- Fullerene nanoparticle producers for chemistry, physics and COMSET
- An etching press, larger than commercially available, for the art department
The list goes on and on — from turf cutter blade parts for athletics to a machine to make miniature bales of cotton for materials science and engineering and air handling shafts for Facilities Maintenance and Operations. They produce samples for undergraduate labs to use for stress testing. They’ve helped students develop easy-to-connect joints for the steel bridge competition. They’ve created a mechanism to dynamically compress artificial cartilage tissue as it is being grown. They even worked with emeritus professor Cecil Huey to replace the governor on a historic steam engine for the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico.
When art professor Sydney Cross wanted an etching press larger than she could find commercially, she went to the guys in Machining & Technical Services. The outcome? An etching press with a 5’x8′ bed.
“It is the largest etching press at a university on the East Coast,” says Cross, “and I don’t know of anyone commercially producing them at that size.” Her classes use the press on a regular basis. Pictured here is Claudia Dishon ’10, who completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking.
2012 SAE formula hub
The MTS shop produces a number of parts for the formula car teams that Clemson fields. Pictured here is the front hub being machined for the 2012 SAE formula car.
Heart valve bioreactor
The MTS shop created parts for a heart valve bioreactor that was developed in Dan Simionescu’s Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine at the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus (CUBEInC). CUBEInC, which opened in December 2011, is part of Greenville Hospital System’s Patewood campus.
Faculty at CUBEInC collaborate with cardiovascular and orthopedic surgeons across the hospital system and expose their students to the highest levels of research.
Stress testing samples
In undergraduate engineering labs, students perform stress tests to determine how various materials respond and to see the relative strength of different metals. MTS produces samples like the ones pictured here.
Fullerene nanoparticle producers
When chemistry professor Ya-Ping Sun needed to create a mechanism to produce fullerene nanoparticles, he came to MTS. They worked with him and others in chemistry, physics and COMSET (Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies) to create this mechanism that produces carbon molecules used in pharmaceuticals, lubricants, coatings and composite materials.
When civil engineers were developing hurricane-proof building techniques, they worked with MTS to create joist hangers and hurricane clips that were then tested in the Wind Load Test Facility. Pictured here is one of the hurricane clips developed to keep roofs from lifting off houses during storms.
From drawings to reality
On the walls of the shop you’ll see pictures of years and years of formula cars designed, built and raced by Clemson students for the annual Society of Automotive Engineers competition. The silent partners in the projects are the guys in MTS.
“The students are building a prototype,” says Nicholson, “and we create different parts for them, like the rotors and the throttle body and the axles.” He picks up a differential that has been crafted out of a solid block of aluminum. “We usually do the differential.”
The competition is early May. Like other projects, these might start with a drawing on a napkin, but Landreth and the others pride themselves on the ability to work with students and faculty to figure out solutions, then make those solutions a reality.
“We meet with the students and talk about what they want and need,” says Nicholson. The back-and-forth conversation elicits a much better product than just dropping off an order and picking it up when it’s finished.
“I can count on one hand the failures we have had of not being able to give someone what they need,” says Landreth.
Where the rubber meets the road
Across campus in another little-known building are two guys spending their Friday morning working on Clemson’s SAE formula car for the competition that is less than three weeks away. The frame is welded together and sits on a large worktable. The whiteboard on the door lists most of the tasks that need to be finished, with a countdown of days to go before competition (19 at this time).
“There are more things we need to do, but I’m afraid if I put everything up there, it will overwhelm some of the team,” says Kevin Carlson, one of the team leaders. He and team member TJ Theodore will be here most of the weekend.
The SAE formula team is made up of students from mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and business who average 10-15 hours a week beginning in the summer. No course credit, no compensation. The seniors on the team will even have to choose between attending the competition or walking at graduation. Some of the team members (including the other team leader, Perry Ellwood) are working co-op jobs and come back to Clemson to spend their weekends on the car. Two alumni team members return once or twice a week to help as well.
The team relies heavily on the guys from MTS, who have produced 14 parts for this year’s car.
“We have 125 hours of MTS time,” says Carlson. “We completely design the car in SolidWorks [software application] and then go to MTS with drawings. They do the steering gears, the wheel hubs, the trigger wheels, the throttle body.” The team mills some parts themselves by hand. And they wrangle others, both donated and sold, from outside vendors.
Working with MTS not only saves the team money, but it also provides them with technical expertise. “It saves us around $6,000 to have their help,” says Carlson. “Hour-wise, it saves us over 300 hours of machining if we had to do it ourselves. They’re a huge help, both with the parts and giving us knowledge on how to machine things better or more efficiently.”
An engine for the rest of campus
The crew in MTS are probably best known for their work with the SAE formula car, but there’s not a college or department on campus that has not been affected by their work. Bioengineer Karen Burg discovered their capabilities while she was still a graduate student. Now a prolific researcher and holder of an endowed chair in bioengineering, she shares some of the credit with them for Clemson research productivity.
“I’ve worked with the Machining & Technical Services staff since I was a graduate student,” she says, “and I’m grateful for all their assistance on numerous projects. They are enthusiastic and helpful, and they have significantly increased our ability to conduct cutting-edge research.”
The MTS crew has worked with Burg to create an instrumented container used for growing tissue for breast cancer research. Caught in a more casual moment, Burg remarks, “In short, Phil [Landreth] and the Machining & Technical Services personnel ROCK.”
The rest of the Clemson crew agrees.
In addition to Phil Landreth and the four managers, the staff of Machining & Technical Services includes (L–R) David Kelley, Glen Rankin, Scott Kaufman, Brittney McCall, Bill Simmons, Dustin Gravley (kneeling), Dock Houston and Wendy Baldwin.