Vincennes, Toyota Partnership Underway

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Vincennes University has begun its Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician program. The partnership allows students to work two days a week at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Inc. in Princeton while earning a robotics degree.

August 29, 2013

News Release

Vincennes, Ind. -- Combining classroom instruction and industrial work experience is a winning combination, according to students enrolled in the Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program at Vincennes University.

"It is pretty intense going to work Monday and Friday at Toyota and going to school Tuesday through Thursday," said Dakota Rostron, a Patoka resident who graduated from Princeton Community High School last spring.

One of two female students in the class of 24 students, Rostron said she is used to that because she took machine trades classes in high school. "It's no big deal," she said.

In addition to receiving paid work experience at Toyota, graduates of the program will earn an associate degree in Computer-Integrated Manufacturing/Robotics. Combined with learning the business principles and best practices of a world-class manufacturer, graduates will be highly sought after by Toyota and other manufacturers, according to Tim Hedrick, professor at Vincennes University, who leads the school portion of the program.

With 28 years of experience in industrial maintenance and electronics, including nine years as a Skilled Maintenance Team Member at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Hedrick says he expects every one of the program graduates to be hired upon graduation, either by Toyota or another manufacturer. Hedrick was among the first graduates in 1985 from Vincennes University's robotics program.

"The start of the program went smoothly. Students were on time and very energetic and they have good demeanor and behavior patterns since working at Toyota this summer. They will continue to work at Toyota on Monday and Friday and have classes at Vincennes University Tuesday through Thursdays," Hedrick said.

Students earn a wage while attending the AMT program and can earn as much as $30,000 in two years which, with planning, can cover all of a student's education expenses. There are also potential grants and financial aid available.

"The opportunity to work for Toyota and have a really great career is what attracted me to the program," said Sam Krichbaum, a 2012 graduate of Benton Central High School. "It's great pay and a great opportunity to work with a multi-billion dollar company that's done great things for people. It's so cool that we can get a job along with going to school."

While not guaranteed, in two years those graduates hired by Toyota as Skilled Maintenance Team Members have the potential to earn a base of

$64,000 annually, plus excellent benefits. Other manufacturers also seek professionals with this level of experience and training, plus graduates may pursue a bachelor's degree in fields such as engineering, technology, or business.

In addition to the 20 students working at Toyota, four students in the program are working at ThyssenKrupp Presta Terre Haute, LLC, a manufacturer of steering systems for the automotive industry.

"Representatives of the ThyssenKrup talked to Toyota and got permission for some of its employees to enter the program. They are production team members who work at ThyssenKrup on Mondays and Fridays, following the same schedule as the Toyota students," Hedrick said.

"We are going to be busy with 24 students as we begin this program but we are looking forward to a good year," Hedrick said.

Based on her experience, Rostron recommends that others look into the Toyota AMT program. "It's a great opportunity for anyone and the process of applying is simple. All you have to do is go to the Vincennes University web site under Technology and look for the Toyota AMT program.

I applied back in the early fall last year."

Both Rostron and Krichbaum said they have long been attracted to hands-on learning. Krichbaum said in high school he participated in Project Lead the Way, a provider of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education curricular programs. Rostron said that she competed at Vincennes University in Skills USA contests for three years while taking machine trades courses in high school.

"I like the Toyota program because everything is hands-on and it involves technology and that is always going to grow," Rostron said. She said it also allows her the chance to continue living in southwestern Indiana, which is one of her goals.

VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana's First College

VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper and additional sites such as Indianapolis and the Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics. VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.

In addition to offering 200 associate degree and certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor's degree programs in technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.

VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 28 other states, and 30 countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana's first college and is the only college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory. More information is available at www.vinu.edu.

Source: Vincennes University