Office of Research

Clemson University SmartState Centers of Economic Excellence

Smart State — Centers for Economic Ecellence

The SmartState Centers of Economic Excellence program, established by the South Carolina General Assembly and funded through the South Carolina Education Lottery, to date has provided $41 million to Clemson for support of 15 endowed chairs in 12 Centers of Economic Excellence.


The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is a SmartState Center of Economic Excellence that comprises four research thrust areas supported by endowed chairs to drive innovation in automotive and motorsports research.

  • Automotive Systems Integration — The automobile is a complex machine, with many mechanical and electronic systems that must work together for the vehicle to perform safely and efficiently. Systems Integration is the overarching research focus at CU-ICAR, bringing together all disciplines.
  • Automotive Manufacturing — The manufacture of automotive equipment, from the total vehicle to various components and mechanical parts, is a highly complex process. Automotive Manufacturing focuses on improving efficiency and safety in manufacturing processes.
  • Automotive Design and Development — Design and development research areas include both vehicle design and design of manufacturing systems, from lightweight materials to the incorporation of new fuel sources.
  • Vehicle Electronic Systems Integration — Today’s automobile features numerous complex electronic systems that must work together safely and without interference. Researchers in electrical and computer engineering and related fields focus on the many issues that must be resolved to make electronic systems compatible with each other and with the other mechanical (and human) systems related to the automobile.

Advanced Fiber-based Materials

Scholars and entrepreneurs with shared interests and expertise in natural and synthetic polymer-based advanced fibrous materials comprise this center. Researchers work to develop advanced synthetic polymers and to enhance natural fibrous materials, including wool, cotton and silk. Fiber-reinforced composite materials based on metals, ceramics and polymers offer applications in automotive, space, athletic equipment and medical prosthetic markets.

Advanced Tissue Biofabrication (with MUSC/USC)

Clemson University joins the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina to  develop processes for the production of complex tissues and organs using a technique called “bioprinting” or three-dimensional layering of individual cells. 


The CyberInstitute center combines faculty expertise in computer and electrical engineering with the University’s growing computing power to create a strong research program, industrial partnerships and technology-transfer opportunities. The center will enhance the university’s competitiveness in research areas that rely on storage, processing and transmitting large amounts of data. It will provide rapid computational prototyping and serve as an educational and testing facility.

Health Facilities Design and Testing (with MUSC)

Improving healthcare environments through an interdisciplinary design is the focus of this center. Research focuses on designing healthcare facilities to improve delivery of healthcare services and creating architectural settings that positively affect the health of patients and staff.

Optical Materials/Photonics

This center is part of Clemson’s world-class Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET). The optical materials/photonics center’s research focuses on the design, fabrication and testing of optical fibers in areas critical to defense and homeland security as well as such areas of industry as communication systems and biomedical applications.


The SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Optoelectronics will strengthen Clemson’s photonics research program that exists in the Center for Optical Materials Science and Engineering Technologies (COMSET), focusing on improving the devices, systems and protocols used in high-speed optical communication networks.

Regenerative Medicine (with MUSC)

This center is focused on the regeneration or re-modeling of tissues and organs for the purpose of repairing, replacing, maintaining or enhancing organ functions. It includes the engineering and growing of functional tissue substitutes. The endowed chair at Clemson will be a leader in minimally invasive surgical repair techniques with expertise in tissue-engineered construction and implants.

SeniorSMART™ (with USC)

As the nation’s population of senior citizens (over age 65) increases, there is increasing need for research on ways to foster independent living and provide support for people in this age group. The SeniorSMART™ center is a collaborative effort that explores three major research areas — intellectual activity, safety within the home, and safety outside the home, especially while driving.

Sustainable Development

This center will focus on creating new technologies that help to foster sustainable development, allowing South Carolina to better protect its natural resources and encourage smart growth. Using technology to reduce the negative impact of development on natural resources is a high-priority field of research for Clemson. The university has existing programs in restoration ecology, renewable energy, natural resources, sustainable design, land use planning, real estate development, and watershed management. The SmartState Center in Sustainable Development will build on those strengths, combining engineering technology and “cyberinfrastructure,” such as hardware platforms and software systems, that allow environmental scientists and technicians to monitor, manage, and safeguard both natural and built environments through informed decision-making.

Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics

This center draws on Clemson’s established expertise in the supply-chain challenges for business and industry in finding the most efficient, economical way to move goods or people to market. The National Science Foundation-sponsored CELDi (Center for Engineering Logistics and Distribution) is a research site that brings industry and academia together to improve supply chain logistics. CISCOL (Clemson Institute for Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics) brings together an interdisciplinary group of faculty from four different colleges at Clemson University and provides tangible products and services that support economic development in South Carolina.

Urban Ecology and Restoration

The Urban Ecology and Restoration center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute supports the growth of South Carolina’s environmental industry. This center’s research integrates ecological science, engineering and urban design and planning.