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New business director joins University’s autonomous systems innovation center


block_n-4247354-1139693The University of Nevada, Reno has named Lt. Col. (ret.) Warren Rapp to lead University-based business and research development of autonomous systems with the goal of creating industry-university partnerships to commercialize technologies. This includes land-based, aerial and stationary robotic systems such as unmanned aerial vehicles, industrial robots, advanced manufacturing systems, driverless road vehicles and underwater robots.

As the new business director of NAASIC, the University’s Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center, Rapp will recruit new partners to collaborate on research and development for autonomous systems as well as enhance current relationships with the University’s researchers in support of economic development in the region and the state.

The position is based in the College of Engineering, and Rapp will work with other colleges and departments, as well as the University-based Nevada Industry Excellence, Nevada Small Business Development Center and Office of Sponsored Projects.

“Warren brings a long history of experience and rich expertise in the area of UAS combined with dedication, drive for success and high work standards,” Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering, said. “We are excited to have him in this leadership position for NAASIC and we are looking forward to his contributions to bringing the UAS industry closer to the University and spurring innovation-based economic development.”

Rapp will engage with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, EDAWN and other economic development agencies and industry partners.

“The Governor’s office has made technology commercialization one of the priorities for economic development,” Marc Johnson, president of the University of Nevada, Reno said. “NAASIC pulls together advanced manufacturing and advanced autonomous systems, especially unmanned aerial vehicles, to do just that. Warren’s background is ideal to lead the Center on a trajectory for success.”

Industry collaborations already underway with University researchers include Drone America, Insitu, GloCal Venture Capital and SpecTIR.

“I’m excited to be a part of this amazing University team of professionals, and look forward to learning the business culture here,” Rapp said. “From my previous job’s perspective as the program manager for northern Nevada UAS testing, the University is already known as an evolving leader in the UAV and autonomous systems fields of study. From the inception of their minor degree program this year to supporting the testing efforts of new companies coming to northern Nevada, and now NAASIC, few universities across the country can match this commitment for success,”

Rapp, a Reno High School graduate whose family roots in Nevada go back to the 1940s, most recently served with the Nevada Institute for Unmanned Systems and was tasked with setting up FAA UAV testing operations in northern Nevada. He retired from the Nevada Air National Guard after serving in the military for 26 years, including 10 years as a Marine pilot at the beginning of his career. He flew helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft as an instructor in Navy flight School and C-130’s for the Guard. Most recently he flew unmanned aircraft at Creech AFB in southern Nevada.

He also served as commander of airport security troops at Reno Tahoe International Airport, director of logistics for the Nevada Air National Guard and as the commander of the 232nd Operations Squadron at Creech AFB. Rapp was a member of Governor Brian Sandoval’s committee for UAS economic development for Nevada, acting as a military technology advisor for northern Nevada.

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