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Graduate Automotive Engineering Education Innovation – Deep Orange Program Collaborative Industry Partnerships Enable System Engineering Based Approach for Project-Focused Learning

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 2

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College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


David Schmueser Ph.D. Clemson University

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David Schmueser joined CU-ICAR in August 2013 as Adjunct Professor of Automotive Engineering. He also is a consultant to the US University Program at Altair Engineering, where he served as University Program Manager, 2007-2015. He received his BS and MS degrees in Engineering Mechanics, and a PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering, all from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Prior to joining CU-ICAR and Altair, Dr. Schmueser worked as a research engineer at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio and as a senior staff engineer at General Motors Research Labs in Warren, Michigan. He was also an Adjunct Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, 1993-2007. Dr. Schmueser has over 30 years experience in light-weight materials design, vehicle optimal structural design, and computer-aided-engineering instruction. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the College-Industry Partnership Division of the American Society of Engineering Education.

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Johnell Brooks Clemson University


Shayne Kelly McConomy Clemson University

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Shayne K. McConomy is the Senior Design Coordinator at in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at FAMU-FSU College of Engineering; He holds a PhD in Automotive Engineering from Clemson University. His focus is product development and design for the automotive industry.

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Pierluigi Pisu Clemson University

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Dr. Pierluigi Pisu is an Associate Professor with the Department of Automotive Engineering and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Dr. Pisu joined Clemson University in July 2006. He is the faculty elected Leader of the Connected Vehicle Technology Faculty Research Group in the College of Engineering and Science and the Leader of the Deep Orange 8 Program. Dr. Pisu also holds a joint appointment with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Clemson University. He is the Director of the DOE GATE Hybrid Electric Powertrain Laboratory and the Creative Car Laboratory. His research interests lie in the area of functional safety, security, control and optimization of Cyber-Physical Systems with emphasis in both theoretical formulation and virtual/hardware-in-the-loop validation. He published 34 journal papers and 80 conference papers; he holds 3 patents and published a book on “Fault Detection and Isolation with Applications to Vehicle Systems”. He is a member of SAE, ASME and IEEE.

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Andrej Ivanco


Robert Gary Prucka Clemson University

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Dr. Robert Prucka is an Associate Professor in the Department of Automotive Engineering at the Clemson University – International Center for Automotive Research. His research and teaching interests include the design, performance, control, calibration, and emissions of advanced internal combustion engines. He has extensive engine testing experience, including dynamometer cell design and advanced instrumentation development. Currently, his research group is developing novel experimental techniques, simulations and control strategies for advanced high degree of freedom spark-ignition engines to improve fuel economy and reduce time to market. Dr. Prucka is also the team leader for one of the current Deep Orange prototype vehicle programs at Clemson University, the faculty advisor for the Clemson University – Racing student team, and is active in the motorsports engineering initiatives of the Brooks Sports Science Institute. He has three degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan; PhD (2008), MSE (2004) and BSE. (2000). Prior to joining Clemson Robert has worked for the Ford Motor Company and as an independent consultant for racing engine companies.

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Graduate Automotive Engineering Education Innovation – Deep Orange Program Collaborative Industry Partnerships Enable System Engineering Based Approach for Project-Focused Learning

Abstract American Society for Engineering Education Annual Meeting – College Industry Partnership Division Columbus, OH June 24-28, 2017


Through traditional education associated with engineering disciplines, students are expected to become familiar with fundamental engineering design and principles through series of engineering materials explanation and through stages of assignments and class projects. The usual knowledge flow offered to engineering students is based on a step-by-step process taught by faculty using text books. Design solutions to real world problems often require approaches that cannot be obtained from traditional text books, such as formulation of meaningful ideas, setting realistic design requirements, learning to execute trade-offs, balancing competing priorities, and communicating with colleagues with different technical backgrounds. This paper presents the implementation of a system-based, sponsor-partner, collaboration focused, learning approach within the curriculum of the Department of Automotive Engineering at Clemson University which meets these real-world design engineering needs.

Overview: Deep Orange Program

The program implementing this real-world approach is called Deep Orange (DO). The Deep Orange initiative is an integral part of the automotive graduate program at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. The initiative was developed to provide first-year graduate engineering students with hands-on experience of the knowledge attained in the various automotive engineering and related disciplines (such as marketing and human factors psychology). The program focuses on developing and building new, innovative vehicle concepts and is driven entirely by graduate automotive engineering and transportation design students as part of their education in close collaboration with industry partners. This paper demonstrates and discusses the flow-down of requirement characteristics of the systems engineering process applied in Deep Orange. During this process, the students start with translating a grand challenge (defined by the sponsoring industry partners) into customer needs incorporating marketing analyses. The project proceeds with general investigation of various vehicle architectures and design alternatives, including the selection of one concept that is based on carefully balanced environmental, economic, performance, and social design imperatives. During the process, faculty serves as student mentors rather than direct knowledge providers. Students are empowered to make decisions and justify their concept selection to different program groups, i.e. sponsoring industry partners and faculty. The last eight months of each project is devoted to building a physical prototype and validation of the vehicle target requirements. Projects conclude with extensive marketing of outcomes by students at trade shows.

The Deep Orange Framework

In 2009, the Deep Orange initiative was established as part of the curriculum for the Master’s Program in the Department of Automotive Engineering at Clemson University. This initiative was launched in partnership with the Art Center Transportation Design Department in Pasadena, California. The Automotive Engineering curriculum at Clemson merges the depth (through specialized tracks) and breadth (through the interdisciplinary Deep Orange initiative) into an integrated scholastic experience. Deep Orange is a framework that immerses students into the world of a future Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and/or supplier emulating an accelerated product development process of a new vehicle. Working collaboratively, students, multi-disciplinary faculty, and participating industry partners focus on designing and building a new vehicle concept with each new class of students, where the industry participation and mentoring plays an essential role.

Each DO project incorporates integrating innovations for breakthrough products and new processes, which provide the students with hands-on experience in multi-disciplinary fields, such as market analysis, value proposition creation, vehicle design, computer-aided engineering, systems integration, prototyping, and design validation from their entry into the automotive engineering program until graduation. The strategic focus of DO is to develop new automotive mobility solutions that address a grand challenge (such as sustainability, safety, health, and wellbeing). Currently, Deep Orange is in its seventh series with the two-year program divided into six main design stages.

• Strategy and market assessment, identification of opportunities, and creation of a value proposition • Ideation, solution formulation, and concept selection • Concept development (detailed engineering and design) • System integration (design space, function, production) • Prototype build and assembly • Product validation and target confirmation

The development cycle for the vehicle design initiates the project with the value proposition and definition of customer needs. The students are required to justify all of the generated program solutions and concepts within the context of the derived customer needs. This design methodology allows for the confirmation of design specifications to the initial targets.

Role of Collaboration: Industry Partnerships

Deep Orange relies extensively on close collaboration with multiple industry partners. Partners range from OEMs to aftermarket suppliers to small engineering entrepreneurs. The partnership roles include providing realistic examples of problems in industry that highlight engineering challenges and associated design requirements to provide the students concrete examples of trade-offs which are fundamental to a systems engineering design approach. In addition, the industrial collaborators mentor the students and offer feedback during each phase of the project. The students are frequently involved in one-on-one partners meetings to resolve technical issues. These interactions between students and mentors are of great student benefit since the feedback is given from a practical industrial viewpoint. In addition to this valuable feedback, the partnerships offer access to technological tools and innovative processes/materials that are currently used by participating partners.

Deep Orange Program Outcomes

To date, six Deep Orange Programs have been completed:

DO1 “Future Electric Mobility” (Completed in 2010, sponsored by BMW). DO1 focused on the integration of powertrain, energy storage, seating concept, and infotainment elements in one vehicle. A baseline vehicle was converted into a range-extended, plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle with a unique seat attachment architecture that mounts the seats backrest to both the roof and floor of the vehicle. In addition, the vehicle interior relied solely on a portable Smartphone device, in combination with a cloud-storage concept.

DO2 “Future Digital Cockpit Experience” (Completed in 2011, sponsored by BMW). DO2 focused on the development and implementation of a digital reconfigurable vehicle cockpit for the DO1 vehicle. It demonstrated a new Human Machine Interface (HMI) and center stack design that allowed for personalized, intergenerational driver interaction with various vehicle, infotainment, and climate controls. Multiple usability tests were conducted including students from the automotive engineering, computer science design, and human factors programs.

DO3 “The Next Big Thing” (Completed in 2012, sponsored by Mazda). DO3 was a fully-functional hybrid mainstream sports car concept targeted towards Generation Y. The vehicle concept developed was given the name “Next BIG Thing” with a target start-of-production in 2015 and was the first program vehicle built from scratch. The vehicle has a through-the-road parallel hybrid powertrain concept with a manual transmission. The concept design employs a 6-seater interior concept and body structure made of origami folded sheet metal.

DO4 “Transformative Activity Vehicle” (Completed in 2014, sponsored by BMW). DO4 focused on the transformation of a baseline luxury Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) into a pick-up style truck. A sliding glass roof transforms the hatch compartment from an enclosed area into an open-bed configuration. The interior is designed to seal the passengers’ cabin in addition to a rear seat new design to accommodate the storage requirements.

DO5 “Personal Emotional Urban Mobility for Generation Y/Z” (Completed in 2014, sponsored by Chevrolet). DO5 is about creating a better value proposition for young adults that have little money to spare, that have less interest in vehicle ownership, need a personal mobility solution for commuting and shopping at the lowest cost of ownership, and have the desire for extra space, and performance for leisure activities. In addition, the project is about creating a solution where social networking and mobility go hand-in-hand, ultimately creating an emotional connection with the vehicle, which leads to the creation of a mobility lifestyle.

DO6 “Urban Utility for Generation Z” (Completed in 2016, sponsored by Toyota). DO6 focused on the development of a blank-sheet, youth oriented vehicle concept with a targeted US market introduction of 2020, catering equally to both young males and females. The vehicle has a low, completely flat interior floor with removable seats. This seating flexibility was achieved by a space-efficient and compact packaging concept for the electrified powertrain architecture. Replaceable “snaps” and “tracks” in the rear cargo area have simple to use interfaces that allow for numerous utility configurations.

Case Study: Deep Orange 3

This paper concludes with a case study based on the third iteration of Deep Orange -“The Next BIG Thing”- to illustrate the systems engineering approach and partnership collaboration aspects of Deep Orange. The goal of the Deep Orange 3 Project was to develop a blank sheet, fully functional hybrid mainstream sports car concept targeted toward Generation Y. Mazda North America Operations was the primary sponsor and the Art College of Design was the styling partner. A key technical objective of the project was to develop a body structure concept that will eliminate body stamping and associated high capital investment for vehicle production. The program chose to explore Industrial Origami’s patented technology that uses lighter-grade material folded into complex, high-load-bearing structure, formed with simple low-cost fixtures at the point of assembly. This paper illustrates how developing the topology and geometry of the body structure required an intensive collaboration among student design students and Mazda assigned chassis, powertrain, and occupant packaging engineers.

Schmueser, D., & Brooks, J., & McConomy, S. K., & Pisu, P., & Ivanco, A., & Prucka, R. G. (2017, June), Graduate Automotive Engineering Education Innovation – Deep Orange Program Collaborative Industry Partnerships Enable System Engineering Based Approach for Project-Focused Learning Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28417

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