(TRAVERSE CITY) -- It has innovative engineering inside and out, and it's all the work of students.
A next-generation Mazda concept vehicle, conceived and engineered by Clemson University automotive engineering students at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), was shown here Monday for the first time in its finished form.
The Deep Orange with body panels designed by student Frederick Naaman at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., was unveiled at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars.
Derek Jenkins, design director for Mazda North American Operations, said that to be part of a college program of this caliber that focuses not just on one aspect of a vehicle, but the vehicle as a whole, is an automaker's dream come true.
"These students have provided fresh and inventive ideas from sketch pad to sheet metal, and the final product truly speaks to that open dialogue and collaboration between the Art Center College of Design and Clemson University," Jenkins said.
The Deep Orange 3 prototype chassis vehicle was unveiled during the 2012 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. The vehicle was displayed minus the body panels.
Paul Venhovens, BMW Endowed Chair in Systems Integration at CU-ICAR, who leads the Deep Orange program, said the students had free rein to push the boundaries of conventional design and engineering.
Deep Orange 3 features a unique hybrid powertrain that automatically chooses front-, rear- or all-wheel drive; a load-bearing structure based on innovative sheet-folding technology patented by Industrial Origami; and groundbreaking 3+3 seating configuration in sports car architecture.
"We know the future of the automotive industry will require ever more flexible, more cost-effective and more innovative approaches to manufacturing," Venhovens said. "Our manufacturing approach on this project was exemplary of this kind of change."
Students in Clemson's graduate automotive engineering program are required to create and manufacture a new vehicle prototype. The vehicle's concept and design are developed in partnership with students from the transportation design department at the Art Center focusing holistically on the vehicle and the end-user.
"Deep Orange offers companies an exclusive opportunity to showcase advanced-vehicle technologies," said Stewart Reed, chairman of transportation design for the Art Center College of Design. "For designers and engineers alike, it's a rich experience of working directly with industry leaders to develop ideas.
"Today is extremely exciting," Reed said. "The result is a physical, drivable vehicle, and nothing could be more exciting for our students."
The program provides students with experience in vehicle design, development, prototyping and production planning. Each year, a prototype vehicle is developed with a new market focus and technical objectives.
The project showcases advanced vehicle technologies and provides students an opportunity to work directly with automotive industry partners to innovate and develop ideas.
The CU-ICAR booth is located in the governors pre-function area, just outside the main conference hall, and will be displayed throughout the event.
INFORMATION & PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ROBERT BENKO