Who could have thought school projects could generate so much interest and attention in the motoring world? A group of students from Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research did so. Their complete next-generation Mazda concept vehicle was unveiled last Monday at the Center for Automotive Management Briefing Seminars.

Dubbed the Deep Orange 3, it was designed by student Frederick Naaman at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Its prototype chassis vehicle (without the body panels) was unveiled last year during the 2012 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.

Deep Orange 3 features a unique hybrid powertrain that automatically chooses front-, rear- or all-wheel drive. It also has a load-bearing structure based on innovative sheet-folding technology patented by Industrial Origami, and a 3+3 seating configuration in a sports car architecture.

This kind of project is part of Clemson’s graduate automotive engineering program. Students from the institution collaborate with their counterparts in the transportation design department at the Art Center in Pasadena for the vehicle’s concept and design. Such projects give students an opportunity to work directly with industry partners in developing and innovating new automotive technology slated for future use.