an engineer’s tour of south carolina

SC state outlineCar enthusiasts can cruise into Spartanburg for a tour of BMW’s only American factory to witness the “blending of modern engineering and design aesthetics,” but you’ll have to wait until renovations are done and the BMW Zentrum re-opens later this year. No matter what you drive, there’s a pretty good chance your ride has a South Carolina connection. With 89,000 tires rolling off production lines every day at MichelinBridgestoneContinental and others, more tires are made in this state than any other.

In Aiken, engineers at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site process and store nuclear materials, and develop technologies to treat nuclear and hazardous wastes from the Cold War.

Boeing’s plant in Charleston is one of two 787 Dreamliner final assembly and delivery plants, and has Zero Waste to Landfill status and was the company’s first 100 percent renewable energy site. At Lockheed Martin’s Greeneville Operations aircraft get 15 to 20 years – or more than 15,000 flying hours – added to their lifespans as engineers do modifications, repairs, maintenance and overhauls.

Future engineers have great choices for getting an education here. Clemson University College of Engineering and Science offers more than 7,000 undergraduate and graduate engineering students the opportunity for “innovation through translation” with an emphasis on technical skill, communication and teamwork. The University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing offers 31 degree programs in everything from aerospace to systems design, including and the state’s only Nuclear Engineering graduate program.

For some fun, head to the low country and see the 1500-year-old Angel Oak Tree, and the Charleston Tea Plantation where you can take a factory tour to learn about green farming and tea production. And if you’re really adventurous, take Interstate 95 to the South Carolina side of the border with North Carolina and see the not-so-serious benefits of engineering. Billed as America’s favorite roadside attraction, South of the Border has been a pitstop for tourists for decades. A 360-degree view of I-95 and the surrounding countryside can be yours with a glass elevator ride to the top of the 200-foot high sombrero-shaped observation tower.