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Rural New Jersey community college partners with elite aviation, aerospace university.

Warren Community College has signed working agreements with a host of 4-year colleges and universities in state and out-of-state, many of which might be considered standard transfer agreements.

Warren’s nationally recognized drone program has been awarded rare FAA flight waivers and authorizations, accolades from the industry, all while receiving multiple certifications. A key factor in Warren’s ability to advance into the drone space represents the unbelievable support provided by the nation’s largest accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace.

Warren has had a relationship with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (EMBRY-RIDDLE) for years, starting with Warren’s President, Dr. Will Austin, earning a degree from the university.  In 2020, faculty from EMBRY-RIDDLE visited Warren and prepared them to become an AUVSI TOP training provider.  

Now Embry-Riddle and Warren have advanced that relationship in a precedent-setting agreement benefiting both institutions while demonstrating globally how higher education institutions can partner for the advancement of knowledge, mutual support, and research. Currently, the EMBRY-RIDDLE Worldwide Campus Department of Flight is leading the partners through a research project to search and identify Burmese Pythons in the Florida Everglades.

A Matrice 300 RTK carrying a MicaSense RedEdge Dual 10-band multispectral camera is just one of several aircraft used for data capture during the joint research project in the Florida Everglades.“At Embry-Riddle, we take our partnering agreements very seriously. Only after ensuring an organization shares our passion for aviation, emphasis on safety, and focus on student success, will we even consider an agreement; Warren Community College fits in perfectly with our educational and operational philosophies and we’re very excited to see where this agreement can take our students,” said Ken Witcher, Dean of the College of Aeronautics at Embry-Riddle Worldwide.

“We can’t be more excited,” said Austin. “Embry-Riddle is an elite university and for us to partner is amazing for our students, who can now complete their next degree on our campus.” The agreement not only allows students to transfer from Warren to Riddle, but adds cooperation in flight training, equipment sharing, and creates a new model where the institutions will collaborate on research grants as well.

Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, in fact, is the largest accredited university system specializing in aviation and aerospace in the United States – and possibly worldwide – with main campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona.

Scott Burgess, Chief of US Flight Operations with Embry-Riddle Worldwide, is prepared for a day of hands-on flight training of EMBRY-RIDDLE small unmanned aircraft systems students in partnership with remote pilot instructors from Warren Community College.“We’ve been working with Warren’s leadership via our Master of Science in Unmanned Systems program as well as the AUVSI Trusted Operator Program for years,” said Joseph Cerreta, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Chief of Training, College of Aeronautics. “Working together has built a solid foundation of trust and confidence and we both understand the fundamental reasons of how working together will have many advantages for both sides and allow us to share knowledge between faculty and in the classroom, while facilitating active student learning in producing graduates capable of safely using UAS technology to solve real world problems.”

David Thirtyacre, Ph.D, Embry-Riddle Department of Flight Chair said community colleges play an important role building the workforce of the future: “The addition and expansion of UAS to the national airspace for commercial purposes will require highly trained professionals, and our community colleges can represent an excellent starting point for many students. We would like to be part of assisting these colleges in scaling their programs, where we can then assist those students in completing their Bachelors and advanced degrees, creating a workforce of UAS experts that expand the industry while maintaining the safest skies and upmost professionalism.”

The final benefit of the partnership is that it is not exclusive, as Austin, a former American Association of Community Colleges Board member, desired to develop a partnership for Warren as a model that other community colleges could replicate.Embry-Riddle embraced the idea, and now both institutions intend to make similar agreements possible for others in the future.   

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