Feb 26
SmartState Council of Chairs with student-built Deep Orange 600 HP hybrid racecar.

If there were a poster child for the success of the SmartState Program, it would be the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville, S.C. Established with the vision of becoming the premier automotive research, innovation, and educational enterprise in the world, the 250-acre CU-ICAR campus is home to four of the original SmartState Endowed Chairs. Today, a group of SmartState Endowed Chairs from Clemson and the University of South Carolina (UofSC) traveled to CU-ICAR for a winter gathering of the SmartState Council of Chairs.

The event was hosted by Laura B. Cardinal, SmartState Endowed Chair in Innovation + Commercialization (UofSC) and Laine Mears, BMW SmartState Endowed Chair in Automotive Manufacturing (Clemson). Mears was joined by fellow CU-ICAR SmartState Endowed Chairs Zoran Filipi, Timken Endowed Chair in Vehicle System Design, and Verkat Krovi, Michelin SmartState Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration. The event included a tour of the Carroll A. Campbell Graduate Engineering Center, networking and lunch.

The success of CU-ICAR in achieving its founding vision took center stage. The SmartState investment in CU-ICAR totals $36 million, half of which came from the State of South Carolina and the other half from corporate sponsors BMW, Michelin, and Timken. A total of $250 million has been invested in CU-ICAR from additional sponsors that include Bosch, Ford, GM, Toyota, Exxon Mobile, John Deere, the U.S. Army, and more. Many of these conduct and/or sponsor research at CU-ICAR.

CU-ICAR has delivered for students and employers. Each year students participate in Deep Orange, a program that challenges them to build a car. This year’s vehicle is a 600 HP hybrid racecar sponsored in part by Honda. Armed with experience like this, 95 percent of CU-ICAR graduates find employment in the automotive industry.

Commented Cardinal, “CU-ICAR truly demonstrates the value delivered by the SmartState Program, its sponsors, the research universities, and the SmartState Endowed Chairs to the State of South Carolina. CU-ICAR research is changing the world, it’s spurring economic development and preparing the technically educated and trained workforce the automotive industry in South Carolina and beyond requires.”

She added, “This is just one of many examples of the significant impact of the SmartState Program and why it deserves ongoing support.”

SmartState Endowed Chair Attendees


  • Robert Baldwin, PhD
  • Bruce Gao, PhD
  • Venkat Krovi, PhD
  • Scott Mason, PhD
  • Sally McKee, PhD
  • Laine Mears, PhD, PE
  • Christiaan Paredis, PhD
  • Zoran Filipi, PhD


  • Laura B. Cardinal, PhD
  • Manuel Casanova, PhD
  • Julius Fridriksson, PhD
  • Kevin Huang, PhD
  • Chris Rorden, PhD
  • Michel Van Tooren, PhD
CU-ICAR in Greenville, SC, includes Innovation Place, the hub for those eager to explore the world-class automotive research campus.
(L to R) SmartState Endowed Chairs Zoran Filipi, Clemson; Laine Mears, Clemson; Laura B. Cardinal (UofSC) and guest Lyderic Champetier of Michelin, a former student of Dr. Cardinal.
SmartState Endowed Chairs enjoy a tour of the Carroll A. Campbell Graduate Engineering Center.
(L to R) SmartState Endowed Chairs Chris Rorden, UofSC, and Venkat Krovi, Clemson, on tour.