At A Glance

Laine Mears is an advanced manufacturing expert within the Clemson University Department of Automotive Engineering. With nearly three decades of experience in education and industry, his work spans advanced controls for manufacturing, assembly processes, human-machine interaction, Industry 4.0 and national advanced manufacturing trends. Mears works closely with industry to integrate real-world problems into his manufacturing labs, which aim to mimic working factories with a full vehicle assembly line, and teams of multidisciplinary staff and students from all levels of the engineering spectrum at the Clemson Vehicle Assembly Center. Through Mears’ work, Clemson is on the leading edge of human-focused Industry 4.0 research through a number of projects.


Laine Mears is an automotive manufacturing researcher within Clemson University’s Department of Automotive Engineering. Mears’ research focuses on manufacturing quality estimation, intelligent machining systems, manufacturing process design and control, and manufacturing equipment diagnostics at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). He is also the founding director of the Clemson Vehicle Assembly Center, a new national model for industry-driven training, workforce development and advanced assembly research.

While the human experience gets a lot of attention in the product domain, little has been done when it comes to the same topic in advanced manufacturing. Through Mears’ work, Clemson is on the leading edge of human-focused Industry 4.0 research through a number of projects. As founding director of the Clemson Vehicle Assembly Center, his research goes beyond ergonomics and safety to understand the mental, psychological and sociological interactions between a human and machines of increasing artificial intelligence in assembly and other manufacturing processes.

Mears also directs the $3M THINKER program funded by the National Science Foundation and aimed at developing well-prepared leaders to close the skills gap in advanced manufacturing. The program focuses on how people and production technologies can work harmoniously in the data-rich manufacturing environment using real-world human-centered problems from industry partners.

Mears brings more than a decade of industry experience with both SKF and Hitachi Automotive Products in high-volume precision manufacturing environments. Externally, he serves on the ASME Manufacturing Engineering Division Executive Board, as well as the ASME Manufacturing Public Policy Task Force, writing position pieces for congressional review.

Over his 14 years at Clemson, Mears has published over 160 peer-reviewed articles and is the recipient of the NSF CAREER award, SAE Ralph Teetor Educational Award, the South Carolina Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, and the IMECHE George Stephenson Gold Medal and Thatcher Bros. Prize.

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The automotive industry is a big lever for the type of work that we do. Years ago we had a vision about some of the problems that automation, AI and Industrial IoT might introduce in terms of pushing the human element out the door – the problems with simply replacing a person with a machine, with a vision of a single person sitting up in the control room running this factory full of robots. People are an essential integrated part of manufacturing, and their roles are evolving rapidly. Today, understanding the human side of manufacturing is critically important for people to work together effectively with Industry 4.0.

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    • Modeling, analysis and integration of adaptive controls for manufacturing processes
    • Human interaction and integration with manufacturing systems
    • Novel processing techniques in forming and joining processes for automotive
    • Intelligent machining systems

    Degrees, Institutions

    • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • M.S. Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute