Image: NWUAV

NWUAV was joined by a number of stakeholders on Thursday, July15, to commemorate the grand opening of their hydrogen fuel cell production facility.

The NWUAV campus in McMinnville, Oregon is a one-of-a-kind UAV technology and manufacturing cluster, featuring UAV engineering, machining, wiring, engine manufacture, testing, and now UAV hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing.

The grand opening ceremony featured a range of speakers, each with a unique perspective on the hydrogen fuel cell technology and manufacturing center’s ramifications. Chris Harris, President and Owner of Northwest UAV, opened the event by introducing everyone and discussing what has enabled this technology and the success of NWUAV.

“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.”

Representative Ron Noble of Oregon also expressed gratitude to everyone at Northwest UAV for demonstrating to the rest of McMinnville and the state of Oregon that a cutting-edge firm can 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 realize, we can do this here.”

A technology developed in collaboration with the United States Naval Research Laboratory, Ben Gould of the Alternative Energy Section, Chemistry Division of the United States Naval Research Laboratory explained what it meant for him to see this hydrogen fuel cell move 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.”

While Ben Gould discussed the hydrogen fuel cell’s potential to assist the warfighter, Keith DeVries, Program Manager for the Office of the Secretary of Defense Manufacturing Science and Technology Program, discussed how Northwest UAV frontline employees are assisting 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.”

Returning the focus to McMinnville, Jody Christensen, the Officer of Governor Kate Brown’s Mid-Valley Regional Solutions Coordinator, closed the speakers with a look back at Northwest UAV’s growth and how it all began 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.

Nedim Husomanovic

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