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The students in the STEM Club were recognized for the hard work they have been doing on the drones! (English translation will come shortly)
Day 7 was a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to work with the students on their drone a bit more, before my press conference with major media outlets in Nepal. These outlets included, Republica (New York Times affiliate), The Himalayan (the major English language newspaper in Nepal), and Avenue TV. See one report here. During the press conference, I gave a brief presentation on my project, to provide the context for the work I was doing. I also received great news that I would be able to fly my drone at Kala Patthar! The rest of the evening was spent preparing the drone.
Day 8 was an early start, and due to scheduling, was sadly my last day in Nepal. I woke up around 6 am to go to the airport, where I, my father, Kapil Regmi, Samjhana Kharel, and Prem Thapa, took a helicopter to Kala Patthar. Our first stop on the flight was Lukla airport, our second was Namche Bazzaar, and finally, we reached Kala Patthar. Due to the thin air and risk of mountain sickness I had only a little more than 30 minutes to get my testing done. There was a lot of wind, which was a technical challenge for the drone. Luckily, it was enough time, and there was not too much wind, to allow me to get my drone flying, but just barely. The craft seemed to be struggling, due to issues with the electronic speed controller, but I only needed to see if it could fly, which it did, and to get data for resolving challenges, which I got.
Although the flying time was brief, I got all of the info I needed. Once we returned from Kala Patthar, my father and I left back for the US in the evening. Thirty hours later, we were back in DC.
Day 6 went really well! I had an opportunity to work with the students for 3 more hours, which allowed me to teach them about calibrating the drone and about safety. I'm really impressed that they were able to build a drone in 6 hours and that they are very excited to teach their peers about construction, programming, operation, and safety. Now that the students have completed a drone, I plan to teach them about utilizing drone websites, to learn about more applications of drones, beyond search and rescue, and to help them to pursue their own ideas.
I have come to the conclusion that I may need to extend my trip as a result of not getting authorization for test flights, yet. Kapil Regmi has been working tirelessly to get the approval for us and the hoops we've had to jump though have been numerous, to say the least. The initial proposed team for for Kala Patthar were myself, my father, and Kapil Regmi. Now, we might have two policemen and a wildlife warden. I'll see if I actually get approval to fly, but if I don't hear back soon, I will have to extend my visit or go home without flight testing my drone.
On a positive note, all of the feedback and time I have had with the students has made this trip worth it. I look forward to seeing what improvements are made to the curriculum.
Day 5 was a was extremely fun! While presenting at Kanjirowa, the head of a primary school in Kathmandu offered to let me talk about drones to 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. I happily accepted and had a wonderful time talking to the students about drones. The kids asked great questions about the applications of drones and how to begin learning what can be done.
After that, I went to Kanjirowa and worked closely with the students and teachers in the STEM Club. I learned a lot about changes we need to make, in order for the students to learn more completely about the drone construction process. While there, I helped the students nearly complete one of their drones! They have six kits, I believe they will quickly complete the basics and to move onto applications like medicine delivery, avalanche rescue, and racing.
Finally, while awaiting government approval, I am preparing to fly my drone at Mount Everest on Friday or Saturday!
Yesterday, I had time to work with the students at Kanjirowa, teaching them about the hardware in their kits and also giving them the curriculum PowerPoint. I look forward to work more closely with them on the software.
Later, I went to Ihub, a library funded by the US embassy, where I talked with students from other schools about drone technology. Many of the students were so excited, they wanted to work with the students at Kanjirowa.
Finally, I attended a dinner, where I got to meet with more educators in Kathmandu, and talk with them about the work being done at Kanjirowa
Day 3 was about as busy as day 2. I had the morning to myself, to work on getting the drone ready for a presentation I had scheduled for the afternoon.
I presented to the Students at Kanjirowa, talking to them about the progress of my project and the current direction of their class curriculum. I had some time to meet with the 24 students, who participate in the class, to give them a more detailed update. They were really excited to see the drone I've built, especially because the operational-scale, octocopter drone that I've built uses almost exactly the same flight computer as the kind they use on their quadcopters. This means that the students have the computer power to support much bigger and more capable drones.
After that, I had an opportunity to speak with the teachers at Kanjirowa and with a local K-6 school. Teachers asked me questions about how the drone curriculum, which I brought with me, would impact Kanjirowa and the society. I explained the drone's capabilities and possible applications in Nepal, including medicine delivery to remote villages and wildlife management, among many other things. I explained to them that feedback on the curriculum would allow us to adapt the course to the particular circumstances of Nepal, and that Kanjirowa was a example for other schools to follow.
In the evening, I had dinner with American diplomats, to talk about the future of STEM in Nepal. They talked about Nepal's first ever Maker Fair, that they are supporting next September. This event to honor the opening of a Maker Space in Kathmandu, with tools that students can use to work on their drones. I was asked to participate.
Day two was much busier, than was day one. In the morning I had a meeting with the wildlife warden for the national park at Kala Patthar, 18,541 feet above sea level and about 1.000 feet above Everest Base Camp. If authorized by the Nepalese authorities, I will test my drone at Kala Patthar. This meeting was critical for gaining that authorization. The warden was supportive of the project and stated he looked forward to a long term relationship with his park and the drone project.
After that I went to Kanjirowa National Higher Secondary School (our partner school), in Kathmandu, to pick up batteries for my drone. I had to have them fabricated in Nepal, because I was not allowed to ship LiPo batteries from the US.
Thanks to Kapil Regmi, Executive Director of Kanjirowa, I was able to meet with the Nepalese Minister of Education. Like the game warden, he encouraged me about the project and he wanted to adapt the drone class at Kanjirowa, a private school, to a public school. This was a huge step for drone education in the country as it could be adopted in the public school curriculum! Later, the Secretary of Education, the top civil servant in the Education Ministry, strongly supported the project.
Finally we ended the day with a traditional Nepalese dinner, which included a live dance show. The hospitality of Kanjirowa has made this a happy experience.
It is currently 8 am, in Nepal. I will give you updates, beginning from yesterday. Not much happened, honestly. I spent 23 hours traveling, 18 of which were on planes, and I doubt you want a review of long waits for airplane food and long lines for restrooms.
I had no trouble getting the drone getting to Nepal. The craft was inspected by the TSA, but thanks to great lawyers at ReedSmith, in Washington, D.C., all of the legal documentation was present, and so, the drone was allowed it to be exported.
I have attached some good pictures from yesterday and this morning.
I will be spending today meeting with the Nepalese Minister of Education and wildlife managers, to present my project and my vision for the future of my collaboration on drone development with Nepalese students.
The students in the STEM club at Kanjirowa have been working on their drone kits for the past few months, one group of students has even flow theirs. This is a great step towards applying their new skills to help others in their community!
The students at Kanjirowa just received the drones sent over a few weeks ago! The Kashmir World Foundation helped assemble the kits with insight from their own drone building classes. Over the next few months students will build these drones in order to become more familiar with proper and safe methods to assemble, fly, and apply drone technology.
Today I revisited Kanjirowa to teach the students about the equipment we donated to them. The student will keep both drones (Garuda and Windhorse) in order to learn more about the construction of the drones. The students were attentive and receptive to everything I told them and I am confident they are fully knowledgeable about the new equipment.
Additionally we also did and interview with Rajan Pokhrel who showed interest in our thoughts of Nepal during our trip here. Both William and I explained that we were extremely happy with the test results and the reception of the project at Kanjirowa
Today I presented my to the students of Kanjirowa today. I cannot express enough gratitude for the kindness of the staff and the students, I am very excited to begin working with them. The presentation went well and I made some fantastic connections. I also did an interview for the Himalayan Times and La Republica whose interest in the project was very encouraging.
- Mike Kronmiller
Kala Patthar, approximately 18,541 feet, Base of Everest, March 26, 2015. Takoff Point for Windhorse Drone. Post-Flight Inspection of Windhorse, damaged by crash, following loss of power. Estimated highest altitude of flight, +19,000 feet. Estimated farthest distance from takeoff, estimated 1000 yards.
Headed back to Kathmandu with Raj where I went with his brother, Prem, to tour the Monkey Temple. Additionally I prepared for my presentation to Kanjirowa tomorrow.
I was graced with one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen today. But I had little time to enjoy it because Raj (my guide) and I had to head to Chitwan. After 6 hours in the car we made it Chitwan and decided to visit the elephant sanctuary. After that we walked around the jungle for a few hours and then went to bed.
Phew! Hiking up 1,200 meters in a few hours is tiring. Luckily the warm hospitality of the people of Astam gave me the energy to do some testing up here. Garuda functioned enough to get it in the air, but had some instability. I sense that one of the motors were damaged in transit but I might be able to replace it when I get back to Kathmandu.
- Mike Kronmiller
Day one of my Trip to Nepal. I only got about 4 hours of sleep but science stops for no man. I drove 4 hours from Kathmandu to Pokara. I probably took 200+ photos but I had to boil it down to the best.
- Mike Kronmiller