Former Oshkosh COO Joins USC Upstate as Industry Advisor

Don Bent

The University of South Carolina Upstate has hired Don Bent, former chief operating officer for Oshkosh Defense, as executive in residence and distinguished professor of practice for industry partnerships and engineering programs. Bent will support the development of a new undergraduate engineering program and will foster strategic partnerships with regional manufacturers.

“Don’s extensive experience in engineering and manufacturing, his strong leadership skills and his deep knowledge of the Upstate manufacturing ecosystem make him the ideal person to help USC Upstate launch a program that will greatly benefit our region,” said USC Upstate Chancellor Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D. “With more than 2,000 engineering and manufacturing companies located in the Upstate, the region has a growing need for skilled professionals. Don’s expertise will enable USC Upstate to develop a talent pipeline to fill these needs.”

“Don is also known as a caring mentor invested in developing the next generation of leaders, and I know our students will benefit immensely from his talent,” Harris added.

Among his responsibilities, Bent will be advising USC Upstate faculty in the George Dean Johnson College of Business and Economics and the College of Science and Technology on creating courses that are relevant to industry needs and standards.

He also will be working with business leaders to create internships and apprenticeships for USC Upstate students to ensure students can move seamlessly from college to career.

“I am so excited to support the future of this inspiring university,” Bent said. “USC Upstate has such a bright future as they grow in engineering and business, and I look forward to strengthening win-win connections with industry.  Most importantly, I look forward to supporting the faculty and students as I share my business knowledge with our future leaders.”

As COO at Oshkosh Defense, Bent was responsible for ensuring successful execution of programs and attracting new business, while also overseeing procurement, manufacturing and quality/continuous improvement. He served as vice president of operations for Oshkosh Defense and Oshkosh Finishing Services before becoming COO.

Bent joined Oshkosh Defense in 2010, helping to lead the production increase for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) and the international production launch of the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle. He also served as the vice president of operations for Oshkosh Corp.’s Fire & Emergency business segment.

Prior to joining Oshkosh Corp., Bent led lean manufacturing transformations at General Motors, BorgWarner and Amcor Packaging.

Bent holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and M.S. in manufacturing management, both from Kettering University.

Bent’s hiring is part of USC Upstate’s strategic focus on developing a pipeline of highly skilled workers for regional businesses. The university is seeking to establish strong partnerships with local industries to ensure students gain practical skills, experience hands-on training, and have defined career pathways after college. USC Upstate has also partnered with the Spartanburg Academic Movement to help increase four-year degree attainment in the region, improve the economic and social well-being of residents and strengthen the regional economy.