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Clemson, Greenville Tech Combine on Assembly Line Prototype

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【Summary】Clemson University and Greenville Technical College are working on a program that will give students from Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research and Greenville Tech students a chance to work together on a prototype assembly line.

Original Timothy Healey    Dec 13, 2016 2:50 PM PT
Clemson, Greenville Tech Combine on Assembly Line Prototype

Two South Carolina colleges are working together on the next generation of automotive assembly lines.

Clemson University and Greenville Technical College are working on a program that will give students from Clemson's International Center for Automotive Research and Greenville Tech students a chance to work together on a prototype assembly line.

Greenville Tech has spent $25 million to build the 100,000 square-foot Center for Manufacturing Innovation, which is located next to the International Center for Automotive Research campus.

Laine Mears will run the program. Mears is the BMW SmartState chair of automotive manufacturing.

"Normally, you see technologies developed for manufacturing done in a research lab," he said. "We want to have the top Tech students join together with our research students to develop these technologies."

Ten to 12 students will work on projects, along with one BMW employee in a supervisory role. Assembly processes that the students will work on include machining, injection molding, electrical engineering and design. A new virtual reality system being used for production was demonstrated by students at an event marking the opening of the center.

Students who graduate from the program could go on to work for OEMs.

"We're not developing the guy who is turning a wrench," Mears said. "My dream is to have a guy hired at a plant and, when he goes for training on a piece of equipment, for him to be able to turn to his supervisor and say, ‘I know more about this thing than you do because I designed it.' When we get to that point, then I will consider this to be a real success. I want our guys to lead the way."

The South Carolina location probably isn't a coincidence, as BMW has a presence in the state.

"Dr. Mears is working on the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing, a critical piece of South Carolina's economy," Andreas Gücker, vice president for quality and total vehicle at BMW, said in a statement. "He is highly deserving of this endowed chair position. The work he is doing is creating technologies and processes that will directly benefit industry, while educating the workforce of tomorrow."

Mears even envisions a world in which prospective students get hooked on manufacturing while in high school or middle school.

"He is an exceptional teacher and internationally recognized researcher on the leading edge of efforts to transform manufacturing with sensing, analytics and assembly automation," Zoran Filipi, chair of Clemson's Department of Automotive Engineering, said in a statement. "Laine's collaboration with BMW and other industry partners have helped put Clemson and South Carolina at the forefront of advanced manufacturing research."


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