A Clemson University automotive engineer is receiving an honor that recognizes his work in robotics for advanced manufacturing and vehicle automation, fields where engineers are in high demand.

Yunyi Jia (left) works with a graduate student in the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Engineering.

Yunyi Jia (left) works with a graduate student in the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Engineering.

Yunyi Jia has been awarded the McQueen Quattlebaum Assistant Professorship, the latest in a string of honors.

He learned last month that he won the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award from SAE International, and last year he received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation. 

Jia, who arrived at Clemson in 2016, said he is honored to accept the assistant professorship.

“It’s always encouraging when your peers recognize your successes,” he said. “I thank the Quattlebaum family for their forward-thinking generosity in making this assistant professorship possible. Their support will allow me to expand research and educational opportunities for my students.”

Jia is the director of the Collaborative Robotics and Automation Lab at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville.

He has received over $4 million in external funding from federal and state agencies and industrial companies. His industry collaborators include BMW, Ford, Bosch and Samsung.

Jia has published more than 90 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications.

He has developed popular courses offered in the Department of Automotive Engineering, including Vehicle Electronics Integration and Autonomous Driving Technologies.

“You can feel excitement in the air when Dr. Jia’s class gathers for the annual competition of student-designed autonomous model cars on an obstacle course,” said Zoran Filipi, chair of the Department of Automotive Engineering.

Further, Jia has collaborated with Bosch and Jenkins Endowed Professor Srikanth Pilla to offer a summer camp where K-12 students can learn about autonomous boats to collect plastic wastes for ocean conservation.

The professorship was made possible by a gift from Alexander McQueen Quattlebaum, who graduated from Clemson in 1934, was a professor of engineering until World War II and served on the Board of Trustees from 1958-74. He made the gift in honor of his father, McQueen Quattlebaum, who was in Clemson’s Class of 1909.

Don Quattlebaum, who is the son of Alexander McQueen Quattlebaum, said he is glad his family’s legacy continues to benefit Clemson.

“It is a testament to my father’s commitment to Clemson and his forward-thinking generosity that his gift continues to expand research and education opportunities for faculty and students,” he said. “Clemson has always been special to us, and it is heartening to know that my father’s and grandfather’s legacies continue to live on at the University. I congratulate Dr. Jia on his new position.

Filipi congratulated Yunyi on the honor and added:

 “Dr. Jia has accomplished much in the short time he has been with the department,” Filipi said. “He has proven himself a highly effective teacher, productive researcher and valued colleague. Dr. Jia is on the cutting edge of research, but he has also proven to be very capable in applying research achievements to solve real-world problems.  As an example, he recently completed a project to create the Robotic Cleaning System for Manufacturing Body Shop, which was selected by the BMW plant director for digitization and innovation for demonstration and industrialization across the company’s manufacturing network.”