Keri Wright is the CEO of Universal Asset Management (UAM), an aviation leader in disassembly, full recycling solutions, as well as component sales, warehousing and third-party logistics.
UAM’s focus on innovation and mission to reimagine the aviation industry has led UAM to also be selected as a 2015 Inc. 5000 recipient and an Impact 50 recipient recognizing the top women-owned businesses from the prestigious Inc. 5000 list.
Additionally, Memphis Business Journal selected UAM as a “Pacesetters” honoree, recognizing UAM as a top innovative business in the Mid-south. In 2014, Aviation Week acknowledged Keri as a “40 Under Forty” honoree and in the same year Keri was recognized by the Memphis Business Journal as a “Top 40 Under 40” and a “Super Women in Business” recipient. Additionally, Keri was also selected as an Inside Memphis Business “CEO of the Year” recipient in 2015.
Nora Toure: Keri, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
“Keri Wright: I have always wanted to be a pilot when I was growing up in Illinois. In fact, I performed my first solo flight before I could legally drive a car! While I was at Purdue University, I also worked as a flight instructor. It is an understatement to say that aviation is my one true passion.
After college, I joined Universal Asset Management (UAM) and was soon promoted to vice president of asset management, quickly followed by a promotion to Chief Operating Officer. In 2013, I acquired the company from its founder and became a CEO of an aviation company at 30 – unheard of for a female.
I came upon 3D printing as a function of my passion for aviation. Additive manufacturing is seemingly the new messiah in our industry. Composite use is on the rise; that is undeniable. In the 1970’s, aircraft were made of ~1% composite materials; Today’s modern aircraft are made of up to 53% composite materials.
The trend is not looking to change, given the durability, fuel and weight efficiency that carbon fiber-based elements deliver. Approximately 5 years ago, I was struck with the inevitability of a predominantly-composite aircraft, specifically Airbus’s A350 and Boeing’s B787 airliners. The full recycling of a formerly operational aircraft is a challenge that UAM undertook with vigor.
Many are introducing carbon fiber into aerospace manufacturing, but not many have been successful in taking carbon fiber in aircraft and re-introducing it back to manufacturing. UAM is the first in the world to recycle carbon fiber directly from an end-of-life aircraft into a raw material fit for advanced additive manufacturing. 3D-printing was instrumental in illustrating this achievement, for the world to witness, via the 3D-printed engine stand.”
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