The first in a series of virtual panel discussions related to how manufacturing is succeeding in a COVID-19 economy was held this month. Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences at Clemson University, and John Lummus, President and CEO for the Upstate SC Alliance, are partnering to host conversations with industry leaders as part of a series titled “Thriving in Interesting Times.”Graphic

The discussions are designed to broaden engagement between Clemson engineering and science alumni and the broader University community.

Mark Johnson, the Thomas F. Hash Endowed Chair in Sustainable Development and director of Clemson University’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing serves as the moderator for the series.

“We’re focusing on how different types of organizations are succeeding in these interesting times,” said Johnson. “And how universities in particular are working with their industrial partners to help them achieve that success.”

The inaugural panel featured three industry leaders: Tony Mathis, president and CEO, Military Systems, GE Aviation; Ralph Hulseman, president, Hoowaki LLC, and Shaun Malin, S.C. regional manager, HRP Associates.

Mathis received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University and was recently honored with induction into the college’s Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists, the highest honor bestowed by the College. He is responsible for General Electric’s military operations serving the U.S. Department of Defense and numerous international military customers.

Ralph Hulseman, president of Hoowaki LLC received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spent 25 years with Michelin R&D, including managing their sponsored research programs and helping build their relationship with Clemson University. He co-founded Hoowaki LLC to develop micro surface technology.Graphic

Shaun Malin, S.C. regional manager of HRP Associates, obtained his master’s in hydrogeology at Clemson University. He serves as a regional manager at HRP Associates, a multidisciplinary environmental, health and safety compliance and engineering consulting firm and has over 17 years of experience in the environmental consulting industry.

The session focused on COVID-19 personal protective equipment and manufacturing. While most manufacturing quickly and significantly recovered from the initial disruption, it is a changed landscape. New products are being manufactured in response to COVID-19 (PPE, ventilators, testing swabs, monitoring systems, etc.) and manufacturing firms are learning to safely work across their supply chains. The transformation has been remarkably fast and effective.

Each panelist talked about how their teams are thriving in areas related to manufacturing and consulting of PPE and COVID-19-related products. They discussed the importance of leadership, culture and relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion described the cultural commitment within each company to working together more effectively through a deeper understanding and appreciation of each of employees’ strengths and skillsets. The goal was to establish long-term resilience by more effectively and efficiently meeting customers’ needs and expectations.

The complete conversation can be found here:

The second virtual panel conversation in the “Thriving in Interesting Times” series will take place on Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. (EST). In this panel, Investing for Growth during COVID-19, four business and engineering leaders will provide different perspectives on investing for growth in the pandemic. They will discuss leadership challenges, outlook for the months ahead, and areas for future investment in capabilities and infrastructure enabling growth. Friends of the Clemson University community are invited to attend and hear about the economic impact of COVID-19 with panelists from Michelin and Bosch. For more information, contact Amy Hunt, senior director of development at


Key quotes from the panel disccusion:

“We spent an incredible amount of time determining what we should be doing in the tough times to ensure we will come out of this be better positioned to support customers, have a better cost structure, go faster, be leaner. We are also redefining ourselves as leaders. Just like having a stronger, healthier business, if we do it right, we will come out of this better leaders, more thoughtful, broader, deeper, with a much a stronger bench.“

Tony Mathis, president and CEO, Military Systems, GE Aviation


“Just because the CDC was not our soup du jour, that didn’t disqualify us from stepping in and trying to decipher and explain how their guidelines would impact a specific business. It feels good to be there for someone who needs you, to be there when they need you most. Helping people stay healthy and stay informed has been a great motivator, and it’s been personally fulfilling for our staff.”

Shaun Malin, S.C. regional manager of HRP Associates


“This experience has led to a focus on the human capital side of the business.  Our team is more aware of the importance of working together and keeping each other safe.  We are learning to be efficient about relationships – having faith in our customers and supporters when you can’t see them in person. Now we’re connecting with our overseas clients and customers exactly the same way we do stateside.”

Ralph Hulseman, president of Hoowaki LLC



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