Purdue Alumnus Named General Manager for Saab’s Aerospace Site in Discovery Park District

May 5, 2020

Indiana native Robert Ulibarrí has been named Saab’s general manager for its aerospace facility in Discovery Park District, where he will lead the advanced manufacturing and production for aerospace systems. The $37 million facility brings in a new era for Syracuse, New York-based Saab as it advances its U.S.-based advanced manufacturing and innovation through a research partnership with Purdue University’s world-leading aerospace engineering program.

Ulibarrí (you-la-BERRY) most recently served as general manager for industrial automation at Eckhart USA, based in Columbus, Indiana. Previously, he held various leadership positions at Lennox International Inc. and Oshkosh Corp. He is a two-time Purdue University graduate, having earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and technology, now called Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and an Executive Master of Business Administration from the Krannert School of Management.

“With Saab building a state-of-the-art facility in West Lafayette and our partnership with Purdue University, we knew we needed to hire an experienced, forward-thinking general manager with a relevant industry 4.0 background and an ingrained understanding of the community. Robert’s background and profile are a perfect match to lead and grow Saab’s Indiana operations,” said Erik Smith, president and CEO of Saab in the U.S.

In the new facility, Saab will manufacture the aft section, fully installed with associated subsystems, of the advanced pilot trainer aircraft for the United States Air Force in partnership with Boeing.

“I am thrilled to work on this groundbreaking project for Saab in support of Indiana, the U.S. Air Force and future customers,” Ulibarrí said. “It is a unique opportunity to engage with Purdue and work with such talented people to expand the defense industry in Indiana. It’s exciting as well that our product will be American-made all the way.”

Ulibarrí is a Peru, Indiana, native and comes from a family of Boilermakers. His wife, Zeina, earned a degree from the Purdue College of Pharmacy. They have three children and plan to relocate from Columbus, Indiana, to the West Lafayette area.

The Saab aerospace facility will be based in the Purdue Research Foundation’s Discovery Park District. Talent recruitment has already begun for certain Saab positions, which will expand when the new facility officially opens in 2021. When at full capacity by 2027, Saab will employ over 300 people in the West Lafayette facility across management, administration and manufacturing roles. The new flagship facility will utilize advanced manufacturing techniques and leverage research and development to support Saab’s broad product portfolio.

“We have been in the planning phase of the Saab/Purdue collaboration for nearly two years, and it is highly rewarding to reach a stage where the building is well under construction and, with Robert’s presence in the company, we move to the next stage of actively working together,” said Brian Edelman, president of Purdue Research Foundation. “There are opportunities for research collaborations with Purdue, a strong talent track for future Saab team members and a culture and environment in the Discovery Park District where Saab employees and their families can thrive.”

Discovery Park District is part of a $1 billion long-term project to transform the west side of the university campus, creating a preeminent environment for intellectual discourse and high-tech commercial enterprise. The district is being developed by Purdue Research Foundation in partnership with Browning Investments LLC for the master planning and development of the district. The Saab project is the sixth major project announced in the past two years for Discovery Park District. Rolls-Royce and SEL (Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories) also have major facilities in the district.