Clemson University’s entire engineering college would be moving to Greenville, if the college's dean gets his wish.
In giving a report to the Clemson Board of Trustees’ Educational Policy Committee on Thursday, Anand Gramopadhye said the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences needs an additional 200,000 square feet of research space.
The goal he outlined in his report was to add that much in facilities on the main campus by 2026.
But when asked by Trustee Bill Smith what he would like to have if he could have just one wish for the college, Gramopadhye said he would like to move the whole college to the campus surrounding Clemson’s International Center for Automotive Research, off Interstate 85 in Greenville.
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“If we don’t claim it, somebody else will,” he said.
Greenville’s growth and high number of engineering jobs per capita make it the ideal place for Clemson’s engineering program, he said.
Forbes has ranked Greenville as No. 6 in the nation on its list of “America’s Engineering Hubs: the cities with the greatest capacity for innovation.”
Already, Clemson has more research space off campus than it does in Clemson, Gramopadhye said.
It costs three times as much to build a building on the main campus as it would at ICAR, he said.
Clemson’s engineering college is like “a university within a university,” he said – bigger than Furman and The Citadel combined.
The college is in a position to play a key role in an emerging Southeastern cluster of engineering centers that stretches from Alabama to southern Virginia, he said, with South Carolina ranking No. 1 in international investment.
The national demand for STEM workers is 1.8 jobs for every one unemployed person, while there is only one job for every five unemployed people in non-STEM fields, he said.
The engineering college is moving up in the rankings in U.S. News & World Report, from No. 46 in 2014 to No. 37 this year, and ranks No. 18 in The Wall Street Journal, he said. Gramopadhye set a goal of reaching the top 20 in U.S. News within 10 years.
The college has seen a 23 percent increase in research funding since 2011, topping $39 million this year, which he attributed to a “cultural shift” with faculty recognizing the effectiveness of collaborating across colleges and with other universities to secure big grants.
Clemson is in the midst of its biggest building boom since the 1960’s, but adding more research facilities has been identified as a major near-term need.
Trustees didn’t indicate how receptive they would be to moving Clemson’s flagship college away from the main campus, but they praised Gramopadhye for “thinking outside the box” and for progress the newly reconstituted college has been making.