Drone program at Warren Community College prepares students for the future

The jobs of tomorrow are rooted in the education of today, and a prime example is the UAS program at Warren Community College.

The highly regarded program offers a two-year degree and two different one-year Certificates at Warren, which is located in western New Jersey between Routes 80 and 78 – providing easy access to students from the Garden State, Pennsylvania and New York.

“We’ve done everything we can to prepare our students for the work force,” says Dr. Will Austin, Warren President and the college’s Chief Pilot.

For many students who are part of the first graduating class in the Unmanned Systems program, it’s made a world of difference in their lives.

“Since I’ve joined the program, my life has changed dramatically – I can’t say enough about this program,” said James Unterwald. “I’ve already secured myself a job upon graduation [in May.]”

Unterwald, who resides in the Stewartsville section of Greenwich Township in Warren County, is set to go to work June 1 as a full-time employee of Tracer Technologies. The company is a start-up based in Easton, Pa.

The curriculum at Warren has made a world of difference to Amy Rodriguez, whose interest in the school’s Drone program piqued after she received an email from the college. She is a returning student from Hackettstown who has worked in real estate.

“I enjoyed it so much and learned that there is so much more than just flying the drone,” said Rodriguez, who received an associate’s degree in 2005 in a different discipline. “I needed something to do [and] I love the program.”

She’s already gotten some work taking pictures of real estate via unmanned aircraft vehicles. She’d like to expand her portfolio in the field by taking videos.

Connor Kelly, who lives in the Great Meadows area of Independence Township in Warren County, likes to work with his hands and wants to go into drone construction.

“I really enjoyed this program because it’s not like traditional school. There’s a lot of hands on,” said Kelly.

In addition to building, maintenance, and piloting of unmanned vehicles, there are jobs in a number of other fields that Warren graduates can pursue. There’s work in search and rescue, mapping, maintenance and repair, law enforcement and piloting the drones themselves in future parcel delivery– to name a few. One Warren student is even pursuing archeological projects of historic battlefields.

Warren graduates will enter the field well prepared, as the college added to its list of aviation credentials in January when it was named as the newest training provider for the AUVSI Trusted Operator Program™ (otherwise known as TOP).

For anyone who may consider enrolling in the program at Warren Community College, John Merrill of Washington Township advises: “Come prepared to learn.” And learn he did, as he said, “Now when you go to an airport, you look at it in a very different way.”

For anyone who has not gone to school for years and/or is looking for a career change and new challenges, Rodriguez said to fear not.

“I realized I’m not too old to learn. You’re never too old to learn something new,” she said while praising Dr. Austin for encouraging her to return to college. “I’m going above and beyond what I thought I was going to do.”

That sounds just like the Unmanned Systems program at Warren Community College: above and beyond.

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Warren offers an Unmanned Systems degree, which is the culmination of a four-semester, 60-credit program that provides students with a comprehensive course of study. This degree features two, one-year certificate degrees in Drone Piloting and Drone Maintenance. Individual courses can lead to professional industry certifications. Warren Community College offers degree and certificate pathways on a variety of levels in robotic technology and unmanned systems (air, ground, and sea). Learn more at www.warren.edu/drones.

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