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Clemson driving sustainability, workforce development, leaders tell conference

GREENVILLE, SC –  March 7, 2012 – From the Upstate to the coast, Clemson University isdriving research and workforce development that will help keep thebrightest students in South Carolina and boost the state’s economy.

Speaking at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 2012 International Electric Vehicle Conference,John Kelly, vice president for economic development at Clemson, saidMonday the university is investing in undergraduate studies andstrengthening its track record of successful public-privatepartnerships.

These initiatives will help provide jobs to keep students in thestate after they graduate and establish South Carolina’s knowledgeeconomy as one of the best in the nation. Universities must modernizeand adjust curriculum to suit private sector needs, he said. Thestudents will, in turn, show industry what the state has to offer.

“The most important issues for the private sector when working withuniversities are research and development and workforce development,”Kelly said. “These come up in every conversation we have with companieslooking to partner with us.”

Through the newly created Clemson University Center for Workforce Development, combined with state-of-the-art research campuses that include the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) and the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston, the university can help accelerate innovations tomarket and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, Kelly said.

“Our students work side by side with the very people looking to employ them after they graduate,” he said.

More than 1,000 people are attending the first-of-a-kind conference,which ends Thursday. The conference will address key trends intechnology, engineering and deployment of electric vehicles and relatedinfrastructure solutions.

CU-ICAR will host tours, a reception and workshops. Main conference activities are held at Greenville’s TD Convention Center. Click here to view the conference agenda.

During a reception Monday evening at CU-ICAR, Clemson UniversityPresident James F. Barker put the development of electric vehicles intothe context of higher education’s overall commitment to sustainability,which is influencing teaching, research and the way campuses operate.

“The definition of sustainability is the ability to meet today’sneeds while preserving the ability of future generations to meet theirown needs,” Barker said. “It is a value and a goal that is deeply heldwithin the higher education community. 

“Students are passionate about it, and they are pushing us in the right direction,” he said.

Conference chairman Joachim Taiber, an automotive engineeringprofessor at CU-ICAR, said that attracting such a high-profileconference to the Upstate is an opportunity to showcase ClemsonUniversity on the international stage, along with the strength andpotential of South Carolina’s automotive industry.

Presenters include manufacturers, vehicle component andinfrastructure suppliers, utilities, telecommunications providers,corporate executives, educators, legislators and venture capitalists.

IEEE has 406,000 members in more than 100 countries, including235,000 members in the U.S. The organization chose Greenville for themajor automotive event over Austin, Texas; Detroit; San Francisco; andWashington.