When Vincennes University President Chuck Johnson announced a partnership with Amazon to train apprentices in robotics and mechanization, he said it would a game-changer for the university, but there are indications the impact could extend far beyond the Knox County campus. VU was selected by the retail giant to train apprentices from Indiana and throughout the country, who will live on the Vincennes campus and get immersive classroom learning, hands-on instruction and on the job training.
Johnson says the partnership builds on programs the university has with other partners and can be an asset for the state’s job creation efforts. “We hear all the time about the need for technical talent in these types of industries,” said Johnson. “It would be great if our folks in economic development could say not only do we have a great location for you because of our highway system and where we’re located, but we also have the ability to get the talent you need to sustain these businesses.”
Johnson talked about the Amazon partnership on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Vincennes is the first university in the nation to be selected by Amazon for the Mechatronics and Robotics Apprenticeship program, which is designed to prepare apprentices for careers in automation and robotics. Mechatronics is a multidisciplinary field that combines mechanical, electrical and computer engineering and important for Amazon to grow its nationwide system of fulfillment centers.
Amazon says apprentices in the program stand to increase their hourly wages by up to 40 percent.
Johnson says the apprenticeship program began following a 2019 visit by Amazon to the school’s Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield and a discussion about training workers at Amazon’s central Indiana fulfillment centers. That led to an apprenticeship program for central Indiana workers.
Amazon then asked Vincennes to change the model and create an intense apprenticeship program on campus, where residence halls can be utilized to house apprentices. The result is a partnership that will bring hundreds of workers from around the nation to VU.