Automotive Engineering with Dr. Srikanth Pilla from Clemson University.

Automotive Engineering with Dr. Srikanth Pilla from Clemson University.


rev it up and welcome to cars yeah show number 1201 initiatives create breakthroughs breakthroughs discover innovations and innovations benefit mankind this is cars yeah where you’ll enjoy interviews with inspiring automotive enthusiasts mark green is here to provide you with a fuel injection of automotive inspiration so get in sit down buckle up and get ready for a wild ride here on cars yeah [Music] hello automotive enthusiasts I’m a revved up and so excited to introduce today’s very special guests dr. Shrikant pilla Chacon are you buckled up and ready for a fun ride absolutely concrete too screwed up myself here you go dr. Sreekanth pilla is the Robert Patrick Jenkins endowed professor and Dean’s faculty fellow of automotive engineering at Clemson University he is also the founding director of Clemson composites Center and director of the automotive engineering certificate program dr. Peale also holds a joint appointment in the Department of material sciences and engineering and mechanical engineering at Clemson his research interests are in the fundamental and applications of sustainable and lightweight functional materials and manufacturing his aim is to create a cross-cutting paradigm at the interface of polymer chemistry polymer physics energy resources material engineering manufacturing science and computational theories we are in for a treasure today he has co-authored over 100 widely cited peer-reviewed archival publications he edited the world’s leading handbook on bio plastics and bio composites and for SAE progress in technology series books in he is the recipient of numerous awards in the industry so shreekant I’ve told our listeners just a little bit about you would you take a brief moment share a little bit more about your career and a very obvious passion for the automobile industry thanks mark for such a nice introduction hello everyone I’m faculty in the automotive engineering department that sounds pretty strange and the reason I say that is because I actually did not start as an automotive enthusiast my I mean will you you’ll you’ll hear more about me I started as a very different guy and for me car was a transportation medium to go from point A to point B that’s kind of how the vision I had and the thought process I had but ever since I started at Samsung the kind of programs that are being through the kind of knowledge and understanding and everything that I have gained over the past five years here and the new project that I am leading completely changed my perspective and today I’m here basically to advocate for automotive field an automotive engineering both from education as well as research standpoint well I’m very excited because you’re gonna be a very different kind of show today than say a traditional show here cars yeah we’re gonna go in-depth a bit on what’s happening in the automotive industry what you’re doing there because things are changing so rapidly in the automotive industry these days it’s absolutely incredible so I’m very excited to have you on board but first as we continue on your journey I always like to ask my guests for a success quote or a mantra this is some kind of saying that’s instrumental in forming your life in your success citing you so maybe some direction it’s a nice way to get the inspirational tires turning here on cars yeah so we can take the wheel my success mantra again I kind of formulated a four phrase haiku if I have if I can say that is opportunities leads to initiatives initiatives create breakthroughs breakthroughs discover innovations and innovations benefit mankind that’s kind of the philosophy I’ve been following and you can see throughout my whole conversation that’s the month that I hit and I believe and I envision for all the activities that I do well it’s perfect for what you do and perfect for the automotive industry these days I mean all the steps and processes and a lot of us take cars for granted we just get in them they start cars these days don’t seem to ever break down they’re just they’re so wonderful they’re so steadfast but the industries really changing is is there a a main thing in the industry that you’re seeing that’s revolutionising the automotive industry in a really really fast way these days today I think the whole industry is looking for few things but if we put together that whole thing right which is what our next deep orange project also heavily emphasizes on is the is how we can make it transportation more effort able but at the same time make it more environmentally conscious so that’s kind of the philosophy everyone is looking for so if you are talking talking about electric cars or lightweight cars low-end in cars what’s the need for all of these making sure that the transportation medium is environmentally conscious so we don’t damage the environment but we conserve that and then but still provide the means of transportation for the public so that’s kind of the the overarching theme then that transportation industry is looking for today you touched on something earlier I always ask my guests us to share a story that instigated their passion for cars in automobiles now you you got into your career I mean a lusted career of teaching of learning of investigating of discovering and you said it yourself you kind of evolved into a car guy through this career that you’re doing now talk about that a little bit and why it inspired you so much yeah it’s actually an interesting story because I myself sometimes wake up seven the middle of the night I was like what am i doing and how come I’m here and and I see that that’s a better than that is something which which is which I never thought about so I came to this country about 18 years ago and I did my masters from Ohio and then I started working for a consumer product company so I was actually working for SA Johnson you know and that’s a family company which makes all this consumer products and then I did my PhD in Wisconsin again my topic of research over there was making some advanced materials for applications like because we focus for more on fundamental science not really on applications but the applications we were looking for for the development of the science is mainly packaging those kind of rigid packaging those kind of applications even till then no introduction of any automotive in my early life and then I went to do my post doc at Stanford in California and over there I was looking for application of the same advanced materials but in construction application so more for temporary housing or interior housing those kind of things so again still no trace of automotive and after that I went back to Wisconsin to work as a research scientist and that is when I was actually working on biomedical applications like like tissue engineering scaffolds so yeah it’s completely again from from an engineer mechanical engineering and all my degrees have been in mechanical engineer per se from a mechanical engineering background advanced materials research construction applications consumer product experience and biomedical research experience there was this opportunity that opened up at Clemson automotive engineering department which said we’re looking for an advanced materials guy who and the advanced manufacturing guy who can actually bridge these two and then provide solutions for the automotive and then I said to myself I can bridge these two but I don’t know if I’ll be able to provide solutions but let me apply I applied I was interviewed and I was offered the position before I took it up I I asked my previous department chair I assure you wanna hire me because I don’t have any automotive background and his response was frequent in my career I had probably 30 to 35 professors I know what I’m doing that’s trust me trust me I know what I do exactly that’s what he said trust me I know what I’m doing I know what you can achieve and then I just looked back myself and I said okay let me revisit the whole story again for you okay I did my masters in Ohio and Michigan Toledo area Toledo Detroit region Warren horse built there yeah yes let me connect back sir and then I I did my postdoc in California right in Stanford California and then I started working in as a faculty in Clemson South Carolina so if you commit to these three dots right yes injury but at a big picture level Detroit is a historical automotive hub California is an emerging electric automotive hub right yeah yeah and then South Carolina is an emerging or I don’t know the new automotive hub mainly focused on manufacturing automotive manufacturing at BMW and all these things so yeah perfect on the backside maybe I did not notice it but I was actually going through the journey of automotive world wow this is an awesome story I mean if you were unfolding this I’m just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel your brighter brighter and I’m like that must have been a very interesting revolution for you when you talk to that gentleman your future boss and you went you know what I think I have been on the right track exactly exactly I didn’t notice and then he signed me something which I believed like okay maybe I myself did not see so when I started reading my own journey user manual right and I I said yes maybe it’s the air in me all the time it’s just that it took probably 10 to 12 10 to 12 years for me to realize that that I am the automotive and you are the you are car guy after all wow that is a really cool story well let’s talk a little bit about challenges no because no doubt as you ventured into this area of your career you were probably met with a few challenges or two I’m kind of guessing I think in what somebody does like you there’s a challenge every day but that’s part of the enjoyment so maybe walk us through one of those situations challenge or a failure something that kind of really pushed you to a limit there and tell us what you learn from that and how it helped you move forward sure again look listening to my story you can very well say my research has been completely different and application domain has been different so when I took up this challenge of getting the automotive research arena I said okay let me implement what I have started doing which is basically all the bio-based materials research that I have done for so many different applications with its packaging biomedical or construction and everything when I started implementing that about five five and half years ago automotive field was not ready I got I got into a big big issue over there because I have done so much research in that arena but the application domain is not ready and then I still remember that day where I offered a PhD position for one student and he asked me what’s the project and I said it focused on bio-based composites and he’s like dr. pillar I don’t see a future for that so I’m sorry I cannot accept it I just sat for myself and for almost about two three days I just couldn’t talk to anyone I was talking to myself where did I land up domain is not ready the students are not ready and what am i doing that’s furniture right I mean because yes you are in a big hole where there is nothing to even catch and come up come out then I decided ok let me again start trading my user manual and I said I’m a mechanical engineer and I’m focused on composite science which is what I have learnt right the sign not the material per se but the science behind it the science that I have learnt why can’t I apply it to other different materials which the automotive the world is looking for okay so one gate greatly said don’t look for opportunities but create opportunities yes sir so I created my own opportunity there and I started digging into automotive lightweighting composites carbon fiber composite that has been the key buzzword back then and I started applying for all the research grants and students came on board it was a great success then I said now let me go back to my passion of making sustainable materials for automotive industry but once you’re successful in one in particular domain then people start to listen and today I can proudly say I have graduated about three students focused on biocomposite three PhD students have graduated from my group in a short span of five years focused on bio-based composites for automotive applications what a great story that’s pretty incredible and and very exciting on cutting edge territory there too which is even more exciting so much of what we’re seeing these days I always ask my guests about a big aha moment in their career that you just shared a big ah-ha right they’re just going okay after a three-day conversation with yourself I think I see finally the path I need to go down I love the idea of having a a three-day conversation with yourself that’s fantastic is there a big aha moment in your career you’d like to share the biggest aha moment in my career has been if you stitch back all these different anecdotes that I have shared the the state of South Carolina actually there is a governor’s award that has been given to contributed calculus and one of the categories is the young scientist for excellence in research here is a guy who never worked in automotive but then he took about the domain and then had he has it his own challenges in meeting the new material systems and everything for that particular domain but then they recognized me with a young scientist for excellence in scientific research focused on sustainable and lightweight metals for the automotive industry that’s earlier this year in 2018 and I was like wow look at five years ago where I was and look at here where I am and the kind of transitions I had and the kind of challenges I had so that’s kind of what is a proud moment but I confidently say that that achieved aha moment is not of me it’s actually of my students who helped me to reach that in that particular position even better very nicely said well I always ask my guests about their first special car now the fact that you’ve evolved into being a car guy in essence but if you go back in time did you have a car that had some great meaning to you or were cars just not part of your life you know what as I said not for me car was a medium to transplant to transport me from point A to point B but then I’ll tell you one one thing when I came to this country several years ago one of the movies that I watched was Italian Job ok I fell in love with me Cooper back then yeah of course all these years I have not been able to afford that Mini Cooper so I didn’t buy it so I’ve been great I mean I’ve been just buying other traditional more reliable you know the Honda and Toyota and stuff what a best moment can it be just two days back I bought my first Mini Cooper no kidding oh very cool congratulations thank you so much so that’s my first really special car that I’ve been dreaming for a long long time and two days back I got it Wow well very cool well we’ve had too many Cooper’s in our family and they’re just the funnest little cars they they put a smile on your face it’s like the Volkswagen bug yeah and I think you’ll find even if you get involved with the Mini Cooper clubs and so forth you’re gonna find a group of enthusiasts like you’ve never seen before because it’s just such a fun lovely little car I’ve spent a lot of time in those cars I used to drive my daughter back and forth College in Southern California which is about a three thousand round mile round trip in those cars very comfortable cars so very excited for you what color is your Mini Cooper you can get the color I’m a sustainability guy so that’s the green green yeah what’s good to say sounds like a green went to me so they have such great great colors great options well good for you that’s pretty cool well I would love for you to share a little bit more now you mentioned it earlier in our talk the university’s deep orange program ExxonMobil has challenged a group of you there at Clemson University in the Graduate automotive engineering students to go beyond what the car of tomorrow will look like I’d love for you to share a little bit more about this deep orange project and I’m gonna make sure I put a link to this project on the doctors show notes page here at cars yeah so you can go and check it out so tell us about deep orange be pouring is a very interesting program and we are do perhaps the only University in North America that actually has such kind of opportunity for students to learn about vehicle systems integration we felt like teaching students vehicle systems integration is a great idea but then how about doing that through a project-based learning approach rather than making them sit and do some theory and simulation on virtually on on the on computers how about making them build a vehicle and while doing that they learn about the entire vehicle systems integration so this concept was was originated about ten years ago by my former colleague who is now an employee of Tesla dr. Paul van Hoven and then and once he was gray I graduated from Clemson I should say basically the professor he was professor and then went to Tesla the kind of evaluation that we had within the department used to each individual professors step into to lead this program and the students over the two-year period they design and they build a concept vehicle from ground up of course our students are not designers so we work with we always work with a design school to get the vehicle exterior and interior those kind of designs taken care of but this our students are engineers so they completely champion the engineering aspect of the vehicle so there’s always this battle between the design school students and our engineering school students like real-life yeah and we tend to give them that experience and also the students a group of around 25 to 30 35 depending upon how many show interest and how many are actually suitable for the program they are selected and they are all divided into multiple different subsystems whether it’s an interior powertrain vehicle electronics body in white and you know those kind of different subsystems and each subsystem will have its own team leader and then for the whole project there will be one project leader again we’re talking about students project leader and then assistant project leader and there’ll be a management team so in addition to just teaching the students about what the vehicle is how to engineer the vehicle how to make the vehicle design and build the vehicle we also teach students about leadership so that is something very rare right you don’t get an opportunity to learn leadership in your school leadership some often times people think it’s it is an inherent quality I absolutely agree on that but at the same time if you if you can hone their skills before even they get on to the real world because in real world you are part of a team and we also tell students to be part of the team and how to lead the team and we say leadership is not a position it’s actually a responsibility and how do they take that responsibility to lead this wonderful project so that’s kind of what the overall program is and we are in the 11th edition of it the project that I am leading the deeper inch 11 which I’ll be the faculty mentor for that is basically sustainable by design concept we will have a functionally designed reconfigurable vehicle enabling system sustainability overall every subsystem that we focus upon we will have a circular economy concept enabled in it in a sense that whatever you put into the vehicle one the vehicle is out of its service life we will ensure that none of it goes to landfill it will come back to the to the use case in other forms maybe it doesn’t have to go necessarily in the automotive sector but it can go into something else but our once a vector is out of its service life we will ensure that the design phase manufacturing everything is done in a way that it doesn’t go into the landfill but it’s brought back into the use case for multiple other applications so the focus is heavily on the circular economy concept but still we will also have lightweight and durable structures and ultra efficient power train system and also a lot of reconfigurable interior design and we put in three different service cases for that or service models what we call care share and deliver what does that mean that means once the user buys this vehicle he can actually configure the vehicle by himself at the user level to meet any of these three service models maximization of utilization is the new mantra that we are putting it so if your vehicle is wants to go on a ride-sharing yes you can actually configure the winter interior for that and then let’s if you want to transport someone with a wheelchair or maybe let’s say there is a patient on an emergency situation you can reconfigure the interior accordingly for case services and let’s if you want to use this vehicle on a weekend to to basically move your apartment from point A to point B you can even do that or you if you want to deliver some kind of big box things let’s take this vehicle is owned by a bi company who wants to deliver packages they can still do that s’okay share and deliver are the three service models we are implementing in this and the four subsystem innovations were looking for is in powertrain interior body in white or chasis and autonomy because zero congestion zero emission and then zero collision and those kind of things are the new tag lines coming up and in these three are not my words t3 came from GM General Motors that has recently announced their future vision based on these three buzzwords and making a car drive by itself autonomous by incrementing autonomous technologies in it will ensure zero congestion and at the same time zero collisions hopefully those are all the different subsystem innovations that we are implementing in this vehicle and ExxonMobil which is the prime sponsor of this they came up with they came to Clemson and they said we would like to build a sustainable by design concept vehicle enabling lot of different aspects of what we talked about just now so they were so happy with the kind of concept that we proposed in the in terms of the innovation service models and everything and they they said we would like to be the prime sponsor Arak again it’s an interesting fact if you look at the entire deep orange history this is a very first time that we have an on automotive William as a prime sponsor starting from the point one till be punched in it always has been automotive OEMs like Honda Ford BMW Toyota Master Mini Cooper these are the kind of automotive volumes who have been the prime sponsors and for the first time Exxon Mobil chemicals which is a materials company per se wanted us to wanted to invest in in this concept to educate and generate a workforce that has the sustainability concept in their in their education and become the leaders in automotive sector Wow you’ve taken us on a very interesting glimpse into the future here I’m excited I want to go back to college it’s just like fun yeah let me tell you this when I was being interviewed for Clemson I was the previous chair who hired me I told him that very because he showed me around right during the interview process and he showed me the deep orange and I told him if you don’t hire me as a faculty I’m going to come back to study at ICON yes I’m gonna be a student yeah get another PhD wow this is exciting I really appreciate you sharing that it’s absolutely fascinating I know the listeners are going to find it incredibly fascinating because the automotive industry as I said at the beginning is expanding and growing and changing so quick and I find it very interesting too that Exxon Mobil is a key sponsor as well so thank you for sharing all that here’s a very introspective question for you if you woke up tomorrow and you were a car you were manifested into a car parked in the garage what would you be and why if I were a car the first question that I would always ask is again people sitting me people ride with me people spend a good amount of their busy life in me right so for me the first question is how can I support and help people by still being environmentally conscious that’s the question I would have for them it’s not always about again making sure you use bio-based materials or renewable material sustainable materials that’s not the paradigm always it could be a lot of different things even if you even if you maintain in a clean way instead of you riding all by yourself if you can actually pull few people together and reduce the traffic and reduce the emissions that is still being corner environmental conscious if I’m a car I mean a socially relevant car or an environmentally conscious car that’s the question I would ask very nice that is almost unique answers I’ve gotten so I appreciate that up next is the last lap before we put the pedal to the metal or maybe not the pedal to the metal maybe we’re a little more environmentally conscious and we don’t press the pedal so hard let’s say thank you to today’s cars yes sponsors everyone who knows me knows I’m really picky when it comes to buy cars and keeping them looking new I’m a huge fan of Covercraft floor mats I’ve protected my vehicle with their products for decades want to keep your vehicle’s interior looking new it’s easy with Covercraft floor mats they will protect your vehicle’s factory carpets from daily abuse whether pets children weekend adventures and those everyday spills it’s a fast easy and stylish way to keep your vehicle looking new Covercraft floor mats come in a wide variety of styles materials and configurations all designed for maximum protection in addition to premiere plush and Berber custom floor mats you’ll also find cargo liners canine cargo area liners – covers and sunscreens enhance your vehicle’s look while protecting the factory finishes with easy to install and easy to clean floor mats Covercraft is the right choice learn more today at Covercraft calm and telemarket cars yeah sent you that’s Covercraft dot-com are you looking for a way to get your products or services into the ears of thousands of automotive enthusiasts around the globe I can help this is mark green here at cars yeah and I’d be honored to be an influencer and ambassador for your brand in a unique and personal way five days a week thousands of subscribers and listeners enjoy the cars you have podcast and website contact me today and I’ll show you how at mark at cars calm or connect with me through the cars you website at cars yeah dot-com hey Mark Greene here from the car shop podcast did you know you can now see me on the cars jet TV show that’s right cars yeah is now on math TV I’ve visited some of the past cars yeah guest and take you along for the ride go to MADtv calm to learn more where you can enjoy cars yeah TV math TV is also available on DirecTV fubo TV FiOS by Verizon or you can stream it through mathtv.com online and they said I only had a face for podcasting [Music] all right tree antha we are back and we’re entering the last lap I’m going to fire off a series of questions and ask you to give our listeners some very quick blips of the throttle answers looking into the future perhaps of the automotive industry what’s the best automotive advice you’ve ever received don’t look for opportunities but create opportunities lovely wonderful would you share one of your personal habits you believe is contributed to your many successes over the years detailing basically that has been my success month all through any problem that I face any challenge that I face I tend to go to the detail analysis of it and I try to go as much detail as I can to predict the solution for that having a resource there are wonderful resources these days is there one in particular you’d like to share yeah I often read again I see automotive engineering magazine and of course there are several other magazines but that is some resource which I felt like all this has some of the latest and most up-to-date advanced information regarding automotive absolutely SAE great resource now if I can wave a magic wand and arrange for you to sit down and have a drink with anyone in the automotive industry who would that be pop up from the bottom well that would be very interesting for sure that’s me I met with him but I haven’t had a drink with her oh really okay well I can arrange that we’ll see if we can set that up for you if how about a book now is your book you’ve read that you think our listeners would enjoy reading that has to do perhaps with business or the automotive industry well there is one automotive design guideline book which I read I don’t believe I don’t again it’s my apologies that I don’t remember the author name but I’ve got so much involved myself into the content that I completely forgot but that that’s the one which I would highly recommend because it tells me the basic principle is again a person like me who never had an automotive experience I wanted to get into the skin and learn about the design guidelines and principles and everything so when I read that I kind of got a high level knowledge on the whole thing well listeners you can find links to all these great resources that dr. pilla has shared on his car show nose page just go to cartier.com type in Sreekanth I’m gonna well his first name for us Rik a n th Fela PIL la and his page will pop right up all right kantha now I know you’ve got your new Cooper there your Mini Cooper so you’re kind of set in the car whoa but today I’m gonna buy you a very cool electric car maybe this is something unique different maybe it’s old maybe it’s new it doesn’t matter cuz I’m gonna buy it for you so don’t worry about the cost but there’s a couple rules to this game one is you can’t sell it to buy a bunch of other toys with or a couple other Mini Coopers I want you to drive it I want you to enjoy it no garage Queens as we call them here and it’s the only cool toy car collector car you have in your garage so what can I buy you today portray a Porsche oh well you’re after my heart that’s my favorite brand is there a specific Porsche that you’d like to have there’s a lot of options out there yeah they do I’m still learning what what good but I’m so much intrigued by their design and that’s that’s been always my this thing why I’m so attracted to them to that brand itself is the kind of unique designs they have yeah absolutely so would you like the two-door sports car the 911 or do you like the four-door or do you like the SUV’s I’m kind of guessing you’re not an SUV guy no no no I like actually the coupe the cool there you go okay Porsche 911 yeah I will get on that I love Porsches they’re my car of choice as my listeners know some have a lot fun a lot of fun finding you a beautiful green Porsche they make some wonderful green colors too by the way so I’ll make sure I get it the right color for you sir come to you have taken me on a very interesting ride today I’ve really enjoyed learning more about you and deep orange and all the very cool things that you and your students are doing for our future in the car world I want to thank you for sharing your journey is there maybe one little parting piece of wisdom or guidance you might offer us before you drive off into the sunset in your Porsche 911 the only piece of word of advice that I would like to give to all the automotive enthusiasts over there if you really want to get some knowledge education in automotive feet consider in University International Center for Automotive Research we are the graduate only department we have just a master’s and PhD and just to tell you the fact we are the first graduate department focused on automotive engineering in this country we graduated the country’s first PhD in automotive we graduated the country’s first female PhD in automotive so our masters to deny D 7 percent of them are placed in in the automotive sector whether it’s in the OEM level or thin or in the supplier level so if you are really an enthusiast of the automotive or automobiles an automobile enthusiast and would like to have acquired a knowledge in background in education for that we do offer certificate programs masters and PhD so consider the the Clemson for any of your educational needs absolutely and what’s the best way for people to connect with Clemson University is it their website yep you can actually go to see UI car which actually stands for Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research cu-icar comm awesome Melissa’s again you can find links to everything that sir Kent has shared today on his car Josh owner’s page just go to cars.com type in mr. camp again that’s SR ika n th pilla PIL la dr. pellis page will pop right up a shout out to Tara Roman Ella she’s the communication strategist at Clemson University she connected us here today thank you Tara and she can’t thank you for being so generous with your time your expertise for enlightening us on the future of cars I’m very fired up and excited until you and I talk again I’ll see you down the road thank you so much you’re welcome [Music] you take care of your cars but who takes care of your investments tuneups aren’t just for engines updating your financial plan is important too your GPS may take you from A to B but it won’t help you on the road to financial freedom for that you need a good co-pilot and a very trusted adviser Chris Campbell CFP is just the man for the job he’ll guide you down that road without driving you crazy for over 25 years Chris has helped people just like you and me with their financial planning and investments with a master’s degree in financial services he is eminently qualified and he’s a car guy to learn more at Chris V Kimball comm or call 866 on a plan securities through money concepts capital Corp member finra sipc seeking financial services is not affiliated with money concepts capital Corp thank you so much for joining us on today’s ride here at cars yeah Drive on over to car C accom to find show notes and inspiring automotive fun download your FREE copy of filler up a fun book filled with gorgeous photographs of fuel filler fun including quotes for more inspiring automotive enthusiasts download your copy today and we’ll see you next time on cars yeah [Music]


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