Growing the Research Gem of South Jersey
Over the past decade, South Jersey has increasingly played a greater role in our nation's aviation sector. While the Atlantic City International Airport continues to expand its services, draw more travelers, and serve as an alternative to Philadelphia and Newark, most of the contributions to the industry originating from South Jersey are little known to commercial travelers or even local residents. Advancements in aviation security, modernization of air traffic control systems, and anti-explosive technology are continually being developed locally at the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center, and that research affects the aviation industry across the country and around the world.
Adjacent to the AC International Airport, the FAA Tech Center is the premier aviation research and development facility in the world. The talented scientists and engineers of the FAA Tech Center continue to embark on cutting-edge technologies that touch every aspect of the aviation sector: from designing fire-resistant passenger aircraft cabins to the creation of the next generation of the country's air traffic control systems which will improve efficiency and reduce congestion in our domestic aviation network. This new technology is being developed here in South Jersey and is critical to ensuring greater safety within the aviation industry. It is for this reason that I am also proud to be a partner in the current effort to establish a larger research center in South Jersey.
In cooperation with the FAA Tech Center, the Richard Stockton College, South Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, the Atlantic County Utilities Authority and Atlantic County Executive's Office have taken the lead in proposing and advocating for the creation of the Aviation Research & Technology Park. To be situated on 55 acres adjacent to the FAA Tech Center, the new research park would bring an estimated 400 highly-skilled, high-paying jobs to the region. In addition to the boost to the regional economy, the proposed park would not only compliment the work already being done at the FAA Tech Center, but fuel further innovation in the aviation and security sectors.
The proposed aviation park is the perfect model of a public-private partnership to deepen our knowledge and development of aviation security and communications technology. It is for this reason I was pleased to secure $450,000 in the annual spending bills recently passed by the House of Representatives, and I will continue to work to secure additional funding as plans for the proposed park move forward.
In July, I had the opportunity to speak at the graduation of the "Careers in Aviation Summer Academy" at the FAA Tech Center. Comprised of local middle and high school students, I was impressed by the graduates' keen interest in the aviation sector. I encouraged them to vigorously pursue math and sciences in their ongoing studies so that they may enter the globally competitive research field of aviation. I firmly believe that South Jersey will continue to play the lead role in research for years to come. It is my hope that when these students' complete their studies, they will return to the FAA Tech Center and a completed Aviation Research & Technology Park to be the next generation of leading researchers in the aviation industry.