CU-ICAR logoGREENVILLE — Student opportunities at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) are increasing after the leading specialty equipment and performance aftermarket trade association awarded the Upstate campus a $1 million research grant.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is expanding its five-year relationship with CU-ICAR by funding research to ensure vehicle dynamics and emissions compliance while developing high-quality aftermarket performance products.

As part of a two-year grant, CU-ICAR will develop a Transient Emissions and Fuel Economy Laboratory and a Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory to provide physical testing, engineering resources and research support for performance product development, testing, analysis and integration.

Semaassoc logoThe grant will help speed to market performance aftermarket components for SEMA members that design, engineer and produce emissions-regulated and vehicle dynamics products.

The research also will provide SEMA members with detailed insight and guidance related to the latest powertrain and suspension technologies.

The research grant project has four specific objectives:

  • Collaborate with SEMA members in research and development for compliance of aftermarket products with a focus on transient emissions/fuel economy and vehicle dynamics;
  • develop guidelines and best practices through case studies with SEMA members to more efficiently achieve product and vehicle compliance;
  • support SEMA members during product development by jointly resolving critical compliance issues by applying these best practices and guidelines; and
  • develop an engineering workforce that understands the unique challenges of the aftermarket performance industry and can use that knowledge in the original equipment workplace and specialty equipment industry

Two automotive engineering doctoral students will lead the research in the focus areas. The dissertation for each Ph.D student will address the fundamentals associated with vehicle performance modifications. Base funding required for these students will be provided through the SEMA grant.

Further, each focus area will be designated two second-year automotive engineering master’s degree students to support the hands-on integration and development of the research projects.

The students will work under the supervision of CU-ICAR faculty member Paul Venhovens, BMW Chair in Automotive Systems Integration, and Robert Prucka, a faculty member on the powertrain team at CU-ICAR.

Prucka said current and future federal and state regulations for emissions, fuel economy and vehicle dynamics pose significant challenges to SEMA members.

The interaction of aftermarket performance products on overall vehicle performance often require large capital and engineering investments to develop and ensure vehicle compliance.

“Many SEMA members do not have access to full-scale laboratories where they can receive comprehensive engineering support for product development,” Prucka said. “This project will help fill that gap, and provide another unique level of education for our students.”

In August 2009, SEMA and CU-ICAR announced a strategic alliance to focus on the current and future challenges and opportunities of the automotive and specialty equipment industries.

John Waraniak, vice president of vehicle technology for SEMA, said advanced vehicle technology is integral to the relevance and the future of the automotive performanceaftermarket.

The association’s vehicle technology programs and the Clemson grant are investments in SEMA’s collective future,” Waraniak said.

“The goal of the innovative SEMA-CUICAR collaboration is to ensure reliable and high-quality operation of aftermarket performance products, as well as establish and grow new business opportunities in the areas of customization and accessorization while educating automotive graduate students and SEMA members on engineering, product development and vehicle technology integration critical to the automotive performance aftermarket industry.”


The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR)
CU-ICAR is a 250-acre advanced-technology research campus where university, industry and government organizations collaborate. Clemson’s College of Engineering and Science offers master’s and Ph.D. programs in automotive engineering at CU-ICAR and is conducting leading-edge applied research in critical areas, such as advanced product-development strategies, sustainable mobility, intelligent manufacturing systems and advanced materials. CU-ICAR has industrial-scale laboratories and testing equipment in world-class facilities available for commercial use.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)
SEMA, founded in 1963, represents the $31.32 billion specialty automotive industry of 6,537 member-companies. It is the authoritative source for research, data, trends and market growth information for the specialty auto parts industry. The industry provides appearance, performance, comfort, convenience and technology products for passenger and recreational vehicles. For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Drive, Diamond Bar, Calif. 91765, telephone 909-396-0289.

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