College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; External Affairs; Graduate School

ExxonMobil sponsors Deep Orange sustainability concept vehicle at Clemson University


Image of covered car with CU-ICAR logoGREENVILLE, South Carolina – Clemson University students are partnering with industry leaders in an effort to create sustainable solutions for the lifecycle of vehicles. Sponsored by ExxonMobil, graduate automotive engineering students in the university’s flagship Deep Orange program will develop a next-generation sustainable concept vehicle.

The goal of the project is to develop an ultra-efficient, lightweight, highly durable mobility solution. The project emphasizes the integration of sustainability in the entire product lifecycle – from manufacture and operation with circular economy considerations. Students will have a unique, hands-on experience working with ExxonMobil and skilled engineers throughout the design and development process.

CU-ICAR students have access to full-scale testing facilities for benchmarking, providing them with critical data to develop the next generation of vehicles.

“Automakers, parts manufacturers, tire companies and other auto-related businesses around the world rely on ExxonMobil to deliver advanced materials that help enhance and modernize automotive design,” said Stuart Milne, venture manager, sustainable mobility, ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “We’ve developed lighter-weight vehicle plastics, liners that keep tires inflated longer, tire tread additives to reduce roll resistance, and advanced fuels and lubricants that improve engine performance. We’re excited to work closely with the future leaders of sustainable mobility at Clemson as part of an effort to further drive automotive innovation.”

Students work in front of a Deep Orange prototype buit out of cardboard.
After reaching an acceptable level of maturing in design, Deep Orange students build a scale mock-up. Prototypes are used to obtain feedback from external end-users to identify problems and guide the design. The process is repeated until end-users find the design satisfying and easy to use.

Housed at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), Deep Orange is an innovative, project-based learning program focused on systems integration. Now in its 11th iteration, the program immerses automotive engineers into the world of vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. Over two years, students obtain experience in financial and market analysis, vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning. Students gain comprehensive technical knowledge as well as valuable “soft skills” that often are overlooked in traditional engineering programs.

Deep Orange 11 will be led by Srikanth Pilla, Jenkins Endowed Professor of Automotive Engineering at Clemson University and director of the Clemson Composites Center.

“Our program offers students the opportunity to work alongside industry experts and the prospect to bring their ideas concerning sustainable mobility into reality,” said Pilla. “The hands-on experience gained through the Deep Orange program will ease their transition into the workforce upon graduation.”


Deep Orange at Clemson University
Deep Orange is a flagship program of Clemson University’s two-year master’s program focused on systems integration in automotive engineering. The program provides students with experience in market analysis, target customer profiles, vehicle design, prototyping and manufacturing while balancing costs and design targets in an aggressive timeline. The innovative vehicle prototype program encourages students to push the boundaries of conventional design and engineering.

Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is a 250-acre advanced-technology research campus where university, industry and government organizations collaborate. CU-ICAR offers master’s and Ph.D. programs in automotive engineering and is conducting leading-edge applied research in critical areas, such as advanced product-development strategies, sustainable mobility, intelligent manufacturing systems and advanced materials. CU-ICAR has industrial-scale laboratories and testing equipment in world-class facilities.

ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading inventory of resources, is the largest refiner and marketer of petroleum products, and its chemical company is one of the largest in the world. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter

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