GREENVILLE — A $250,000 contribution from an auto supplier that recently moved its North American operational headquarters to Greenville will help give Clemson University’s automotive engineering students a financial boost.

Zoran Filipi, left, and Mike Davidson hold a copy of the JTEKT Endowed Fellowship agreement at recent ceremony at CU-ICAR.

Zoran Filipi (left) and Mike Davidson hold a copy of the JTEKT Endowed Fellowship agreement at a recent ceremony at CU-ICAR.

The contribution from JTEKT North America Corporation creates an endowment that pays for annual fellowships benefiting automotive engineering students.

One student a year will receive the JTEKT Endowed Fellowship In Automotive Engineering. The plan is to allow the endowment to begin accumulating investment returns and present the first award in three years.

It is believed each recipient will receive about $10,000, although the amount may vary.

Clemson officials saw the contribution as confirmation that the automotive engineering program was succeeding in its mission to prepare students for industry.

JTEKT’s new North American operational headquarters is at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, the same location as Clemson’s automotive engineering students and faculty.

Zoran Filipi, chair of the automotive engineering department, said the fellowship will help Clemson recruit and retain top students in a field critical to South Carolina’s economy.

“We thank JTEKT North America Corporation for its generous support,” Filipi said. “The fellowship will help students pay for their education, providing a financial incentive for them to choose Clemson’s automotive engineering program.”

JTEKT North America is a premier designer and manufacturer of automotive steering systems, driveline systems and industrial and automotive bearings. The company is a founding partner and anchor tenant at CU-ICAR, originally establishing a bearing technical center on the CU-ICAR campus in 2006.

Mike Davidson, the chief operating officer of the company, said JTEKT values its collaboration with Clemson and access to its talent.

The company has helped mentor automotive engineering graduate students and is involved in research projects. Undergraduate students have worked at JTEKT as part of the university’s cooperative education program.

“The collaborative design of Clemson’s program is what sets it apart from others in the industry,” Davidson said. “It is one of the reasons more than 95 percent of alumni are using their degrees in either the automotive industry or academia.”

Fred Cartwright, executive director of CU-ICAR, said Clemson has had a fruitful collaboration with JTKET and that the fellowship is an extension of their continuing work together.

“We are grateful for JTEKT’s leadership and many contributions,” he said. “We expect our growing  collaboration to continue to  benefit Clemson’s students and faculty, JTEKT and the automotive industry.”

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