College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Graduate School

Presley Ihezue finds ‘sense of honor’ in work with U.S. Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center


One of Clemson University’s newest and most high-profile partnerships is providing master’s student Presley Ihezue with an opportunity to work on his passion for sustainable transportation and could lead to a long-term career path.

Presley Ihezue poses for a photo with two vehicles at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.

Presley had the opportunity over the summer of 2022 to work an internship at the United States Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) in Warren, Michigan.

Clemson and GVSC have formed a research partnership aimed at developing innovative virtual prototyping tools for designing the next generation of on- and off-road vehicles, with the U.S. government committing up to $100 million to the project.

In his internship, Presley found an unexpected benefit of being a civilian working with the Army.

“People tell you ‘thank you for your service,’ and that’s something that I’m not used to,” Presley said. “There was a sense of honor. We’re developing technology to help bring our soldiers home. It’s just a phenomenal feeling that I still can’t wrap my mind around.”

Presley is pursuing a Master of Science in automotive engineering. He said a big reason he landed in Clemson was Jerome McClendon, a research assistant professor who called him back when faculty members from other universities did not and then helped him find scholarships.

At Clemson, Presley is supported by two prestigious programs. He is an Associate GEM Fellow in the The GEM National Consortium and is receiving the SMART scholarship from the Department of Defense.

“There’s a notion that a lot of undergraduate students aren’t aware of,” he said. “It’s that you can get paid to go to graduate school. A lot of people think you have to work a full-time or part-time job and be a part-time student. But there’s a lot of opportunities that are available that will assist you in funding.”

Presley expects to graduate in May and return to GVSC, where he plans to work for at least two years as part of his SMART scholarship. But he is already thinking about how he could stay within the organization and move up after his scholarship.

Presley grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, except for a four-year stay in the Chicago area, where he picked up an allegiance to the Bulls, the city’s NBA team. He received a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from California State University, Sacramento.

Presley counts his mother, Oby Nwanne, as his biggest influence.

“She motivates me,” he said. “We all go through ups and downs, and she just always reminds me that, hey, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

You can connect with Presley on LinkedIn here.

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