Clemson’s Mears earns top ASME recognition

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Clemson University professor Laine Mears has earned a prestigious award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

ASME’s committee of past presidents has named Mears, who serves as the BMW SmartState chair in automotive manufacturing at Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research [CU-ICAR] in Greenville, a fellow.

The university said the honor is reserved for only 2.9 percent of the organization’s 120,248 members.

According to his colleagues, Mears has been instrumental in strengthening Clemson’s ties to industry leaders, including BMW, GE, and Honda, as well as numerous automotive suppliers.

“This is a high honor that goes to a small fraction of ASME members,” said Zoran Filipi, chairman of Clemson’s Department of Automotive Engineering, in a statement. “It is a testament to his hard work, innovative approach and collaboration with industry. This is an honor not only for Laine, but for the department, CU-ICAR and the industry collaborators that have supported his efforts.”

Mears has a decade of industry experience under his belt with SKF Bearings and Hitachi Unisia Automotive.

While he was still working in the industry, Mears earned his master’s degree in mechanical engineering through Georgia Tech’s distance learning program. He then returned to school full-time complete his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

In 2006, Mears became a founding faculty member in Clemson’s automotive engineering graduate program at CU-ICAR.

One of his most recent projects seeks to inspire collaboration between Clemson engineering and Greenville Technical College Students on a prototype vehicle assembly line at Greenville Tech’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation.

Mears helped establish eight courses in the program in partnership with original equipment manufacturers to create a talent pipeline for the automotive industry.

With a research portfolio of more than $6 million, Mears has worked with more than 25 graduate students and postdoctoral research, and more than 20 undergraduates.

“This continued funding directly demonstrates his power for translational research,” said Ralph Resnick, president and executive director of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, in a letter to ASME. “These are solutions that impact a company’s bottom line, but require the generation of new knowledge in terms of modeling, control and information management… Dr. Mears has demonstrated exceptional and unique capabilities in balancing these approaches.”

Valerie Pezzullo, one of Mears’ students, earned a $100,000 first-place prize in 2014 in the MTConnect Challenge 2 with an open-architecture platform designed to detect vibrations in metal-cutting machines so corrections can be made before parts are damaged.

Mears other honors include the 2011 SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, the S.C. Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers George Stephenson Gold Medal.

He has generated more than 130 archival journal and reviewed conference publications. He collaborated on the textbook, “Electrically Assisted Forming-Modeling and Control.”

“Dr. Mears is an excellent scholar and educator,” said Anand Gramopadhye, dean of Clemson’s College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, in a statement. “He has conducted cutting-edge research and created innovative academic programs that directly address industry needs. He has developed exceptional collaborations and is a leader in his field.”

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