At A Glance

With more than twenty years’ experience in higher education, industry and public service, David Clayton is an expert in southeast economic development strategy, advanced manufacturing and the mobility industry. His work spans public-private partnership development, corporate engagement, business development, market research, financial services, transportation and nuclear engineering. Working closely with industry, Clayton develops corporate partnership models supporting opportunities for students as well as industry partners that are in line with Clemson’s land-grant mission to the state and its residents. Clayton can speak to trends in advanced STEM education, economic and workforce development in the southeast regional, and the mobility industry as a whole.


Clayton works closely with industry partners such as Samsung, Bosch and Ford to establish and execute cooperative research projects and academic engagement initiatives.

Pivotal in founding Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI), Clayton brought on corporate partners to fortify the program including GE, KUKA Robotics and Hass Automation, among others. As CMI’s first executive director, he furnished it with state-of-the-art equipment, developed the curriculum for the state’s first four-year degree from a technical college and built educational collaboration programs between Clemson and the college.

Clayton also served as the research division director at the South Carolina Department of Commerce, the state’s economic development agency in charge of industrial recruitment and attraction of foreign direct investment. While there, he co-developed South Carolina’s innovation plan to support entrepreneurship and technology-based economic development. His work lead to the creation of the state’s innovation office and catalyzed the angel investor tax credit. Behind the scenes, Clayton supported global business development efforts, including the recruitment of global brands such as Continental, Samsung, Volvo and Google, among others, resulting in $20 billion in capital investment in the state.

A former nuclear fuel design engineer with Westinghouse Electric and gas turbine engineer with GE Power, David earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Clemson University and an International M.B.A. from the University of South Carolina.

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The long-term vision for the auto sector is a reimagining of mobility to have a seamless multimodal transition from origin to destination. How do we sync up all those traditional modes of transportation – biking, walking, busses, trains and cars – with newly-imagined ground transportation options? Autonomy will play a huge role in that transformation to truly smart cities, using new technologies like artificial intelligence and electrified powertrains.

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    • Automotive and mobility industry
    • Advanced manufacturing
    • Regional economic and workforce development

    Degrees, Institutions

    • International M.B.A., Darla Moore School of Business
    • B.S. Mechanical Engineering, Clemson University