VU names new Center for Applied Robotics and Automation Director

VU names new Center for Applied Robotics and Automation Director

Kimberly Wright smiling in the CARA on the Vincennes University Campus. There is a cobot in the background of the photo.

August 28, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. - Kimberly Wright is the new director of the Vincennes University Center for Applied Robotics and Automation (CARA). In this role, she will lead the largest collaborative robot educational program in the United States.

 According to VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson, “Vincennes University is incredibly proud that we are at the forefront in the introduction and development of collaborative robotics education and training. Through CARA, and with our steadfast strategic partnerships, innovative curricula, outstanding faculty and staff, and new technologies, Vincennes University is committed to building the future for Indiana’s economy, shaping the workforce that will be needed, and offering tremendous career opportunities for current and future VU graduates. I am eager to begin working with Kimberly as she assumes the important role of CARA Director.”

The one-of-a-kind Center for Applied Robotics and Automation consists of 42 cobots on the Vincennes Campus, Jasper CampusGene Haas Training and Education Center in Lebanon, and in Career Center Early Colleges, with K-12 schools. Cobots are robotic automation built to work safely alongside human workers in a shared workspace in various industries such as manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, hospitality, and aviation. A cobot is usually responsible for repetitive, menial tasks, while a human worker completes more complex and thought-intensive tasks. The VU cobot hub was made possible by an $8 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant and in partnership with Carmel, Indiana-based Telamon Robotics.

Wright brings to her new position as CARA director more than 20 years of technical teaching experience and talent development in various settings, including secondary education, dual credit, traditional postsecondary, and adult education in corporate environments.

“I am both honored and excited about my new role,” Wright said. “I look forward to working alongside my VU colleagues, educators, and industry leaders to foster innovation, bridge the gap between academia and industry, and prepare students for the dynamic landscape of automation and robotics. The CARA harmonizes innovation and education and is helping create a workforce prepared to excel in an automated era, steering progress for a brighter Indiana and beyond.”

Wright possesses a passion for VU. Since 2001, she has held a variety of roles with the University. Wright has been involved in numerous workforce development initiatives relating to upskilling and training workers, developing curriculum and partnerships, and managing teams and projects of all sizes.

Previously, Wright contributed to VU’s launch of the first Amazon Mechatronics and Robotics apprenticeship program in the nation as the program's manager. Since 2020, the program has trained more than 400 apprentices from diverse backgrounds to work as technicians across the United States. Wright is a well-respected former faculty member of the College of Technology. She taught computer-integrated manufacturing and robotics and electronics. Wright also held program coordinator and assessment positions. Additionally, she directed a Project Lead the Way initiative offering innovative learning experiences for five local high schools. She also coordinated the Early College Program at Vincennes Lincoln High School.

She holds two VU degrees, an associate degree in Robotics and a bachelor’s degree in Technology Management. Wright earned a master’s degree in Adult Education and Executive Development from Ball State University.

“We are excited to welcome Kimberly Wright’s exceptional leadership and expertise to this position,” College of Technology Dean Ty Freed said. “She is a proud Vincennes University College of Technology alum and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this role. VU is a leader in providing workforces in Indiana and the country with highly skilled professionals who possess the knowledge needed in today’s advanced manufacturing industries. With Kimberly’s guidance, the University will continue strengthening our strong industry and educational partnerships by integrating collaborative robotics and automation processes into their working and learning environments to create a workforce for the present and future.”

According to a recent survey report by Conexus Indiana and the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, 51 percent of Indiana manufacturers expect to adopt cobots in the next five years.

“Vincennes University is committed to empowering individuals and industries with cutting-edge knowledge in cobot and Industry 4.0 technology,” Wright said. “Through education, hands-on exposure, and comprehensive training, the CARA ignites a passion for automation. By offering first-class learning experiences, we are a catalyst for cultivating adept professionals who are driving productivity and reshaping industries.”

# # #