Graduate Student Michael Siemann Installs WeatherBug Weather Station in Nepal

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Instead of spending a break from school at home, mechanical engineering graduate student Michael Siemann traveled to a remote Nepali village to install a weather station as part of the Earth Networks – WeatherBug Total Lightning Network.

The weather station will aid area pilots flying small planes to remote villages and general mountain sightseeing flights in an area known for extreme weather changes. Siemann, who is also a researcher and developer for  Earth Networks e5 home energy efficiency program, worked with local Nepali porters and yaks to carry the load of tools and components to assemble the station in Mohare Danda.

"The trip was a wonderful experience," Siemann said. "I met many genuinely kind and giving people, and enjoyed the most beautiful mountains in the world.

”Taking part in an engineering project abroad is a fantastic way to broaden one’s horizons and experience other cultures and viewpoints," Siemann’s advisor Jungho Kim said. Kim visited Nepal last year during his sabbatical at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology to set up a KAIST Engineers Without Borders chapter there.  He helped Siemann organize a trip to install the weather station in one of the most remote regions of Nepal.

Trip details were passed on to the University of Maryland Engineers Without Borders chapter, in anticipation of possibly starting a program in Nepal. These trips not only help the host country, but also help future engineers like Siemann solidify the skills learned in the classroom, Kim said. “Students realize that what looks fine on paper many times does not work out in the field.”

During his time in Nepal, Siemann had to make a new antenna to replace the one he brought that was lost at the airport. He had to wire up his own circuits to power tools, test the components of the weather station and even serve as a permanent power source for the weather station. His experiences in project courses like the senior capstone design and ultra-low energy use design courses helped him learn to make use of the materials at hand. “Learning to improvise then made me ready to handle the install in Nepal,” Siemann said.

To view Siemann’s photographs and learn more about his trip, visit his Facebook page.


Published March 25, 2013