Pictured left to right: Chris Harris, NWUAV President & Owner; Keith Devries, Program Manager at OSD ManTech; Karen Dennis, NWUAV Engineering Program Manager; Ben Gould of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s Alternative Energy Section, Chemistry Division; Kevin Cronin, Excet Inc. Electrical Engineer; Jeff Ratcliffe, NWUAV Chief Technical Officer. (Photo: Northwest UAV)
On Thursday, July 15, NWUAV was joined by a variety of stakeholders to celebrate the grand opening of their hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing centre. Featuring UAV engineering, machining, wiring, engine manufacturing, testing, and now UAV hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing, the NWUAV campus is a unique UAV tech and manufacturing hub in McMinnville, Oregon.
The grand opening ceremony featured a variety of speakers, each with a unique perspective on the implications of the hydrogen fuel cell technology and the manufacturing centre. Northwest UAV President and Owner Chris Harris kicked off the event with welcoming everyone and touching on what has made this technology and the growth of NWUAV possible.
"It's been a long journey to get to this point," Chris Harris said, "16 years in business, and we wouldn't be here without the hard work of our employees. So thank you all for making this possible."
Oregon House Representative Ron Noble also thanked everyone at Northwest UAV for making it apparent to the rest of McMinnville and the state of Oregon that a cutting edge company can reside and thrive in McMinnville, Oregon.
"We had five bills this year that dealt with hydrogen," Representative Noble explained, "Two of them passed ... You are on the cutting edge here in McMinnville ... People think of technology as San Fransisco, maybe Portland, maybe Los Angeles, New York ... What you're doing here is in McMinnville. And people don't realise, we can do this here."
A technology developed in cooperation with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Ben Gould of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Alternative Energy Section, Chemistry Division, explained what it meant for him to see this hydrogen fuel cell actually go from the bench to industry and manufacturing.
"It's something we dream about every night. I want to see my technology actually go help someone, help the warfighter and save lives," explained Gould. "We're doing that here ... It needs to happen more. And one of the stories that needs to be told is that it's important for us in government to work more with industry." Gould went on to explain that the concept for this hydrogen fuel cell technology also took 15 years, and he was thrilled when Northwest UAV offered to make the idea into a real manufacturable technology.
While Ben Gould touched on the opportunities of the hydrogen fuel cell to support the warfighter, Keith DeVries, Program Manager of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Manufacturing Science & Technology Program expanded on how Northwest UAV frontline workers are supporting the frontlines in the field.
"I understand fully having worked small businesses at points my career that the success of a small business rests on all of your shoulders," explained DeVries, "From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you ... It is just warming to know that you are at the front lines of technology insertion here in McMinnville enabling the safety of our frontline warfighters out in the field."
Turning the focus back to McMinnville, Jody Christensen, Mid-Valley Regional Solutions Coordinator from the Officer of Governor Kate Brown concluded the speakers with a look back at Northwest UAV's growth and how it all happened right here, in McMinnville.
"I believe the story of Northwest UAV is centered on being a community. A community where people can be global thinkers and innovators, while enjoying a quieter, more connected way of life. It has a global reach, but it is grounded here, in McMinnville," Christensen said.
The ceremony concluded with an official ribbon cutting (pictured) followed by a catered lunch of local favorites and tours of the new facility.
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