Friday, April 12, 2024

Senator Booker Joins Local Officials for Tour of WCCC’s Robotics Research Center

Teaching administrator for precision agriculture, Adam Kyle, instructs Commissioner Director Lori Ciesla to pilot Warren UAS drone (“Spot”) as she uses the drone’s robotic arm to pick an item up off the floor. Photos provided by W.C. Office of Public Information, 8/2023

PRESS RELEASE: (PHILLIPSBURG, NJ – August 25, 2023) – Warren County Community College (WCCC) welcomed a host of dignitaries to the Dr. Joseph Warren Robotics Research Center in Phillipsburg on Friday, August 25 for an informative presentation and tour of the facility.

Warren County Commissioner Director Lori Ciesla was joined by United States Senator Cory Booker and local elected officials to learn more about the incredible work and research being conducted.

The event also aimed to celebrate the nearly $700,000 allocated within the Senate appropriations bill for the college’s Precision Agriculture Technology Project. Pending approval by the US House of Representatives, these funds will facilitate the exploration of ways in which robotics and drones can be utilized to develop tools that promote sustainable and economically viable farming methods.

Following a presentation by Dr. William Austin, the staff of WCCC’s Unmanned Systems Program (Warren UAS) guided Senator Booker and Commissioner Ciesla through their facility.

After the tour Sen. Booker said, “My staff told me I would be amazed, but this is like a category five hurricane. I am incredibly proud of the work being done here and its implications for humanity – in agriculture, transportation, public safety, and homeland security. The potential for humanitarian applications is astounding, and we’re just scratching the surface of this.”

Warren UAS is one of the most cutting-edge and hands-on programs in the county, ensuring that its students are well-prepared for lucrative careers in Drone Systems, Robotics, and AI. Through the program’s Associate of Science in Unmanned Systems track, students learn to pilot and repair drones and robots. By obtaining the Drone Pilot certificate, students become Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified drone pilots, while the Drone Repair and Maintenance certificate equips them with knowledge on how drones and robots function and how to repair them.

Ciesla expressed her gratitude, stating, “I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Senator Booker for visiting Warren County to see our County College’s drone and robotics lab. The grant totaling nearly $700,000 that he secured for us will propel this program to the next level, particularly in the field of precision agriculture. These technologies assist our farmers in enhancing crop production with reduced costs and minimized environmental impact on the soil. Dr. Will Austin and his team consistently surpass expectations, and every time I visit the lab, there’s a new project or challenge they’re addressing, often involving collaboration with various agencies seeking their expertise. It fills me with pride to witness these advancements happening right here in Warren County. This program is an invaluable asset to the county, state, nation, and the global community.”

Booker concluded by saying, “We’re a state that has been at the forefront of innovation throughout our history, dating back to the colonial period. Our focus has always been on progress rather than political affiliations. To see you all continuing this legacy in our state, utilizing emerging technologies such as drones, AI, and robotics, is a testament to our future… the returns on our investment here are immeasurable.”

To learn more about Warren UAS, watch this video:

Desiree Dunn
Desi L. Dunn, Managing Editor
Managing Editor at Desiree L. Dunn, LLC

Born & educated in NY with an Environmental Science degree from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Desi's family resides in Hardwick with a young teen and several spoiled pets. Considering northwest Jersey to be a true gem, her commitment to the people and environs is exemplified by the many different jobs she's had - municipal & county official, election clerk, open space plan writer, newspaper & radio journalist, grant writer, events coordinator and farm market manager as well as retail, waitressing, archaeological digger and once for a short while in a very huge warehouse.

Her favorite was as a reporter for many years with the Recorder newspapers, Blairstown Press, Paulinskill Chronicle, Gannett publications plus WNTI Public Radio producing public affairs and human interest stories on-air.

She often has her camera ready to capture interesting people and events. She's thrilled to now serve as RVE's Managing Editor, helping fellow writers hone their skills and show you the issues as well as treasures that exist in North Warren, through their eyes.