College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

Benjamin Lawler of Clemson University recognized for preparing engineers to meet society’s challenges


Benjamin Lawler is bringing home an award that recognizes him as one of the nation’s top young engineering educators and provides a fresh shot of acclaim to Clemson University’s celebrated automotive engineering program.

Lawler, an associate professor of automotive engineering, has won the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award from SAE International. The award goes to young educators who are preparing engineers to meet the challenges that face society.

Benjamin Lawler

“It is a high honor to win this distinguished award,” Lawler said. “I look forward to networking with practicing engineers and then imparting that knowledge to my graduate students as they embark on their careers as automotive engineers. It is a tremendous opportunity, and I thank all those who have nominated and supported me.”

The award includes two years of SAE International membership and a trip to a major SAE International conference. Part of the idea behind the award is to connect young engineering educators with practicing engineers in industry and government.

Lawler is based at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville.

At least 10 current and former Clemson faculty members, including eight from the Department of Automotive Engineering, have received the Teetor award in the past 20 years. Among them was Laine Mears, who won in 2011 and is now the department’s acting chair and the BMW SmartState Chair in Automotive Manufacturing.

“I offer Dr. Lawler my most enthusiastic congratulations on receiving a 2022 Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award,” Mears said. “The award is a testament to his dedication to teaching, curriculum development, service and research. For the department, it is confirmation that we continue to attract some of the nation’s best young engineering educators.”

Lawler began his career at New York’s Stony Brook University, where he won two teaching awards, before leaving in 2019 to join Clemson. He has helped develop the automotive engineering curricula at both universities.

Among his accomplishments at Clemson was expanding an automotive certificate course, AuE 4020: Advanced and Electrified Powertrains. Cross-listing it as a master’s-level course and a technical elective helped boost enrollment in the course to as many as 75 students per seating.

Lawler was involved in acquiring more than $4 million in research funding in his first two years at Clemson.

His research has focused on reducing pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions from internal combustion engines. A large portion of his recent research is related to renewable and sustainable fuels for combustion engines and understanding the types of engines and combustion concepts that would be most conducive to range-extended electric vehicles.

Lawler has over the past seven years helped organize the SAE World Congress Experience. He has served as a session chair and has organized two special panels with industry experts on natural gas combustion and dual-fuel combustion. Lawler has about 60 publications, including 16 papers published at SAE conferences or in SAE journals.

The award’s namesake, Ralph R. Teetor, was a noted inventor who came up with the technology now known as cruise control. Even more remarkable, Teetor did it without the benefit of eyesight.
The award comes from SAE International, “a global organization committed to advancing mobility knowledge and solutions for the benefit of humanity,” according to its website.

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