All posts by Alex Mandel

Humanitarian Mapathon

As part of Geography Awareness Week, the Center for Spatial Sciences and UC Davis Mapping Club are hosting a Humanitarian Mapathon on November 17th, 11am-5pm.

The objective of Missing Maps humanitarian mapathons are to map the most vulnerable places in the developing world so that local and international NGOs, communities, and individuals can use the maps and the data to better prepare for and respond to crises affecting the areas.

This mapathon is a great introduction to the OpenStreetMap project and what it means to be a humanitarian mapper. No experience required, all are welcome, snacks and stickers will be provided.


Date: November 17th, 2016
Time: 11am-5pm
Location: UC Davis, 1017 Wickson Hall

Guest Speaker: Nick Hallahan

Time: 12:30pm
OpenStreetMap Guru and software developer will talk about all things OSM.

Demo: Mobile OpenStreetMap Data Collection (Phones)

Time: 2:30pm
Come see how to use your phone to collect data for input to OpenStreetMap

Please RSVP, so we can plan volunteers and snacks. Feel free to join and share on Facebook too.


What to bring? Please bring a laptop (limited computers available).
Do I need to know GIS or have special software? No, volunteer guides will be on hand to teach you everything you need to know, which can all be done with a web browser.
Will there be food? Yes, the RedCross is ordering some pizza.
How long should I stay? We recommend you give yourself at least 30 minutes to learn how to map, and make some progress.



UC Davis


Additional Links

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operation Demonstration and Training Session with 3DR

Presentation Notes
  • Gregory Crutsinger, Academic Program Director with UAV/UAS firm 3DR (Based in Berkeley, discussed their product line-up, potential and future uses in academic research. Please contact before making any purchases to get academic pricing.
  • Brandon Stark,  Director of UC Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aerial System
    Safety (based at UC Merced). Outlined the requirements for flying a UAV/UAS system officially for research with the University. See slides for more details. Contact if you have questions, need FAA forms, or aren’t sure what you need to get started. The center is new, and a website with information and forms will be announced later this year.
Also see the notes from the UAV/UAS/Drone Mixer event.

Continue reading Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operation Demonstration and Training Session with 3DR

UAV/UAS/Drone Mixer

Post Event Speaker Notes

  • Susan Ustin – Land, Air & Water Resources, FAA Assure program, Industry collaboration to fund innovation in drone technology and applications. Currently focused on safety but other applications are welcome. Contact Susan for the application form and more information.
  • Sean Hogan – UC Ag & Natural Resources Extension program, working on drone application in agriculture. Looking to run workshops to train users. Has forms and information on certification and FAA permitting process.
  • Xiaoguang (Leo) Liu – Electrical and Computer Engineering, drone construction (custom flight controllers) and payload modifications.
  • Ilya Anishchenko – Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Designing drone for carrying air sampling payloads in orchards.
  • Zhaodong Kong – Mechanical Engineering, working on collision avoidance and object tracking. Teaching course in drone construction spring quarter
  • Robert Basset – Math, Working on fast mathematical solutions for sensor accuracy/correction (flight positioning sensors). Looking for flight data to work with.
  • Meg Crofoot – Anthropology, Studies animal behavior in field habitat. Tracks movements through canopies and maps foraging habits.
  • Alex Mandel – Env Sci & Policy, Knows low cost kite platforms and IR consumer camera modification.

Also see the following event: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operation Demonstration and Training Session with 3DR

Continue reading UAV/UAS/Drone Mixer

Tom Smith & Hilary Godwin – Building the Congo Basin Institute

Dr. Thomas B Smith & Dr. Hilary GodwinThe University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) recently opened the Congo Basin Institute (CBI) in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Expanding on the existing resources and infrastructure of the IITA campus the CBI will serve as a regional nexus for interdisciplinary research, education, training and technology development focused on critical issues facing the Congo Basin with implications for both the developing and developed world: climate change, water and food security, biodiversity, and human and animal health. Additional universities and NGOs will be added to the CBI consortium that will eventually be expanded to IITA 14 stations and campuses across sub-Saharan Africa.

Presented by: The Davis Humanities Institute African Studies Research Cluster

Lunch will be served.
Please RSVP to Sarah Gilkerson, Graduate Student Coordinator at

More information on CBI:

Show in Google map
Voorhies Hall – Room 228, Davis, CA, United States
More info: Event attachment

OSGeo California Annual Meeting

Saturday Jan 23rd
9:30am to 4pm
California Chapter Meeting of Open Source Geospatial Foundation
Come meet other users of open source geospatial software, hear about people’s past projects, participate in mapping activities, and discuss current topics in research and industry.Full meeting details
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Hunt Hall – Room 142, North Quad Avenue, Davis, CA

UAV’s: Designing Battery Powered Flying Vehicles to Support Construction, Agriculture, Mining, and Energy Sectors

Institute of Transportation Seminar

Sam Miller, Chief Technology Officer, Skycatch

UAV’s: Designing Battery Powered Flying Vehicles to Support Construction, Agriculture, Mining, and Energy Sectors
May 15, 2015.  1:40 – 3:00 PM
1605 Tilia, Room 1103, West Village

Drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) have attracted plenty of public attentions in recent years for their increasing presence in commercial applications, government surveillance, scientific research,  and environmental conservation. They also have potential for a wide range of future applications yet to be imagined. Additionally, drones are becoming increasingly popular in the energy sector, carrying high-resolution cameras and sensors to perform various functions. including monitoring, inspection, detection, and exploration. And these are just the beginning. The seminar will touch on the following topics:

1. “What Skycatch does” — Briefly talk about the markets, products and the industry.
2. “Interesting data” — All the different data you can get from the air: focus on agriculture, mining, construction, and power sectors.  Specific examples that relate to power and transportation will be presented and discussed.
3. “How to build a battery powered UAV” — Discuss optimization trade-offs that apply to ANY vehicle (power, construction techniques, weight, lithium ion challenges, battery systems, run time, charge vs. swap strategies, brushless motors).
4. “The data pipe” — Discuss all the raw data that is pulled from the UAV, during flight and after landing, and how it’s transferred and processed and presented. (This could be considered “telematics,”  although the usage model may not be a close enough match. In most cases data collected is mostly used to deal with bad situations.)

At the end of the seminar, there will be a live demo of flying drones (if permitted) and Q&As.

Biographical Sketch
Sam Miller is the Chief Technology Officer of Skycatch (, a company that builds autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones, and offers data solutions and autonomous construction support around the world. Sam has an outstanding technical background starting at Intel, where he led a custom chip design team supporting Pentium IV processors.  Sam left Intel in 2001 to found a successful custom design company that he managed for 12 years, providing product design and manufacturing services for medical, defense, and high-tech industries. Sam has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.