Clemson University President James P. Clements told a group of dignitaries at BMW headquarters in Germany that the university’s partnership with the automaker is flourishing more than a decade after it was first announced in 2003.

“I look forward to nurturing it and watching it continue to thrive,” he said.

Clemson University and BMW officials met in July at BMW headquarters in Munich.

Clemson University and BMW officials met in July at BMW headquarters in Munich.

Clements led a Clemson team that went to Munich in the last week of July to meet with BMW officials, including Manfred Erlacher, president of BMW Manufacturing.  In April 2014, Clemson University received the distinction of becoming one of the BMW Group’s international Strategic Partner Universities.

Clements committed to educating engineers and other talented graduates to help meet the automaker’s needs for years to come.

“We are planning for the next 10, 20, even 50 years, which means BMW can expect even more highly qualified Clemson graduates and cutting-edge research well into the future,” Clements said.

Clements told the crowd that the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) would not have been possible without BMW’s support as the university’s first founding industry partner for the campus.

BMW’s Information Technology Research Center was the first private-sector campus resident, he said.

“The success of CU-ICAR is the perfect example of the impact our innovation centers can have,” he said.

Since 2009, the automotive engineering graduate program at CU-ICAR has awarded 28 Ph.D. degrees and 233 Master of Science degrees, Clements said. Automotive companies spent $6 million on research in 2014 at CU-ICAR, he said.

“Over the last nine years, Clemson has done more than 100 successful projects in collaboration with BMW, and you have hired 150 Clemson graduates,” Clements said.

Pictured from left to right are: Manfred Erlacher, president of BMW Manufacturing; Klaus Froehlich, a member of BMW's Board of Management; and James P. Clements, president of Clemson University.

Pictured from left to right are: Manfred Erlacher, president of BMW Manufacturing; Klaus Froehlich, a member of BMW’s Board of Management; and James P. Clements, president of Clemson University.

Clements also pledged to continue working with BMW on research that will help the company improve products and processes. The pledge fits with Clemson’s emphasis on translational research– taking knowledge from the lab and turning it into real-world innovations that can have a global impact.

“We want to use our research to make a difference in the world,” Clements said.

The Deep Orange program is a great example of how Clemson works with industry partners to translate research into new technology, he said. As part of Deep Orange, automotive engineering students work with automakers to design and build new concept cars.

BMW has sponsored two Deep Orange projects and is currently sponsoring Deep Orange 7, which has students working to reinvent the BMW MINI.

The delegation visit to BMW followed the BMW University Day event, a gathering of all of BMW’s Strategic Partner Universities, which took place earlier in July where twelve CU faculty traveled to Germany to meet with BMW representatives to discuss potential research collaboration.  Faculty from the Automotive Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Computing Science and Materials Science and Engineering departments were amongst those participating.

Clemson team members on the trip included: Fred Cartwright, executive director of CU-ICAR; Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science; Suzanne Dickerson, director of international business for CU-ICAR; Paul Venhovens, BMW Endowed Chair in Automotive Systems Integration; and Zoran Filipi, chair of the Department of Automotive Engineering and executive director of the Carroll A. Campbell Graduate Engineering Center.