The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) gave the Clemson University of South Carolina automotive engineering program a $1 million award recently towards creating a research and education center for “sustainable vehicle systems.” The center is to be housed in the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), and is being created by the DOE’s Graduate Automotive Technology Education (GATE) program.

With the new center, which will be known as the GATE Center of Excellence in Sustainable Vehicle Systems, Clemson hopes to improve the propulsion systems of energy-efficient, low-environmental-impact cars through the research and education of graduate students. Imtiaz Haque, chairman of the automotive engineering department, says that the program is designed to help students understand the basics of sustainability as pertaining to cars, covering such issues as vehicle life cycle, reliability, emissions and energy use, and manufacturing.

Image via CU-ICAR

The DOE’s GATE centers focus on three main areas: hybrid propulsion, energy storage, and lightweight materials, and their five-year programs provide funding for schools for both curriculum development and laboratory research. The aim of this program is to train and support a highly-trained workforce for energy-efficient and environmentally-sound vehicles who can both overcome the current challenges in the field, as well as develop new technologies.

Haque sees the GATE Center as a vital part of the future of automotive production and engineering. “Future automotive products and technologies will have to meet a wide variety of goals — economic and environmental, as well as performance goals — in order to meet market requirements,” he said. “The GATE Center of Excellence in Sustainable Vehicle Systems will help our students gain the strength in innovation that is the key to our automotive industry remaining competitive in world markets.”

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