College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; External Affairs; Research; University News

NSF Director visits CU-ICAR campus, looks to Clemson as a national model


Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the United States National Science Foundation (NSF), visited Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) on Monday to discuss the agency’s vision and priorities while meeting with University leaders, faculty and students. Director Panchanathan was joined by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham for a portion of the visit as the University highlighted ongoing NSF-funded projects and Clemson research impacts.

“It was awesome to be here with my good friend, Jim Clements, and visit this outstanding CU-ICAR Campus,” Panchanathan said. “Institutions like Clemson are a vanguard of global competitiveness, and ICAR is an exemplar of the outstanding ecosystem of excellence and collaboration between private companies like BMW. NSF is a catalyst and an enabler for the type of work being done here, and the most important part of what we do is developing talent for the future. Seeing the synergistic and symbiotic systems of students, public funding and private industry happening here, we should determine how we scale activities here and use Clemson as an example all around the country.”

Ten people, including the NSF Director, are standing by a number of tables at the Clemson ICAR campus. Inside the multi-stories room is a background wall with the words "Deep Orange" printed on the wall.

Director Panchanathan kicked off his visit with an overview of Clemson’s research prowess and initiatives, the CU-ICAR campus and future opportunities for collaboration among Clemson, the NSF and industry partners. Led by President Jim Clements and Provost Bob Jones, the briefing included Senior Vice President for External Affairs Angie Leidinger; Vice President for Research Tanju Karanfil; Dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences (CECAS) Anand Gramopadhye; Associate Vice President and CU-ICAR Executive Director David Clayton; and CECAS Associate Dean for Research Dan Noneaker. 

Following a discussion with President Clements, Senator Graham and Director Panchanathan, the director was the featured speaker at a lunch with Clemson deans and NSF Career Award recipients. 

“The National Science Foundation is the premier government agency working to see America win on many fronts – artificial intelligence, manufacturing, energy independence – and ICAR is one of the premier research facilities on the world,” Senator Graham said. “It says a lot about Clemson that the NSF director would visit to see the capabilities here, and I’m here to help Clemson tell the story.”

The afternoon featured a comprehensive tour alongside faculty and student researchers of ongoing work taking place on the CU-ICAR campus including an overview of the automotive engineering department, the Deep Orange project, VIPR-GS, human factors in automotive research, advanced composites research, innovation in sustainable materials, smart manufacturing, and autonomous driving. Each stop highlighted the value of public-private partnerships and the key contributions of federal, state and industry funding to advance mobility technology.

The NSF Director poses with a group of students, faculty and staff outside at CU-ICAR. They are in two rows, one squatting or kneeling on the concrete parking lot and the group behind them are standing. Trees are in the background.

Director Panchanathan’s visit concluded with a meeting of several Clemson leaders and senior leaders from BMW including Robert Engelhorn, President and CEO, BMW Manufacturing Co., who discussed Clemson’s capabilities and opportunities on a regional, national and international level. 

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.

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