Tales from Nepal—BCIT civil engineering students blog from abroad

Left to Right – Casey, Deepak, a civil engineer we work with, and Ryan.

BCIT Civil Engineering students Ryan Kroeker and Casey von Hahn spend most of their time in Burnaby, British Columbia, studying with the BCIT School of Construction and the Environment. This summer, however, they’re in Kathmandu, Nepal. Ryan and Casey are working as Earthquake Engineering Interns, helping the area become more earthquake resilient. They are blogging about their experience. To find more of their stories, click on Casey’s byline above or this link.

(NB:The following two entries occurred both before and after their initial post, which you can find here.)

June 5, 2017

This summer, we are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and practice seismic engineering with a Kathmandu, Nepal, company called Earthquake Safety Solutions (ESS). We are Casey Von Hahn and Ryan Kroeker, 4th year civil engineering students at the British Columbia Institute of technology (BCIT) in Canada.

When we heard about the opportunity to come to Nepal to learn about seismic engineering and apply our technical knowledge from school, we couldn’t resist but to apply for this once in a lifetime opportunity. The citizens, infrastructure, and landscape of the Kathmandu valley is so beautiful and we are honoured to be apart of the ESS team to help create a seismically safer society. After observing ESS now for a month, their application of new retrofit technology and cost effective measures to create a more secure community through improved infrastructure has truly been eye opening.

Nepal - ESS
At ESS Day, presentations included plans for the future: performing multi-hazard/seismic assessments on 30 schools throughout Nepal and continual rehabilitation of structures, improving they’re earthquake resilience.

On June 5th, 2017, Earthquake Safety Solutions celebrated their third work anniversary. The Himalaya hotel ballroom was rented out for this occasion, and all of ESS’s past clients were invited for an evening of celebration. It was a very positive night for all that came, and everyone there was in high spirits of celebration. Dev Kumar Maharjan, CEO of ESS, gave a fantastic presentation outlining everything that the company had managed to accomplish so far, what ESS has planned for the future, and a warm thank you for all attendees. Attendees ranged from engineers to anthropology professors to lawyers to machine oil distributors, as well as many other professions.

ESS is an engineering firm that was founded just over 3 years ago by a small group of engineers who used to work for the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET). The firm specializes in seismic structural analysis, design, and retrofitting. The company was created to fill in a need for consulting firms who could work on both public and private projects. Since their creation, ESS has completed approximately 100 seismic engineering related projects, with the majority being in the area of seismic vulnerability assessments.

ESS, now made up of approximately 20 employees, is in a good position for future growth. Nepal requires more seismic consulting expertise in order to create a safer society. ESS will have the opportunity to expand into areas such as transportation, bridges, hydroelectric, and many other areas of infrastructure. In the near future, ESS would also like to set up an earthquake lab to carry out tasks such as geotechnical research, accelerometer data analysis, seismic zone mapping for Nepal, and hazard and risk modeling.

Earthquake Safety Solutions’ mission is “To become the most trusted and respected technical solution provider, continuously striving for excellence in disaster-resilient technology and customer service for the establishment of resilient and thus, happy communities.” So far they are definitely on the right track, and we are very excited to see what is in store for them in the future!

July 8th, 2017

Nepal - rice fields
Rice plantation happening during our hike. Monsoon season is celebrated for the harvest of rice.

After being sick and having busy weekends filled with work events, we were able to make it on a short trip out of the Kathmandu valley to enjoy the hills of Nepal in Nagarkot. This place is a village located 32 km east of Nepal on top of Nagarkot mountain standing over 2000m above sea level. Although famous for its sunrise view of the Himalayas and panoramic view of the valley, due to monsoon season, we got to see something even more special: clouds, rain, and giant cicadas! Luckily enough the rain held back for 5 hours and were able to complete the Nagarkot Nature walk. This trail twists and turns around the mountain through the many different farming communities. On the trail, we saw the beginnings of the rice season plantations, hills heading towards the Chinese border, and goats littering the area.

After a long day of hiking, we were able to relax at a small hotel called Hotel at the End of the Universe. Here we ate mounds of dal bhat (lentil soup and rice) and Casey attempted to learn how to play the Jew’s Harp, one of the oldest instruments in the world. In the photo you can see our new friends who tagged along for the ride—one a Nepali actor and singer, famous for his villain roles and the other who recently completed their Master of Arts in Germany and is here on an internship learning public relations in Nepal. The other photo shows the beautiful valley we were able to see through this journey.

Nepal - hike - BCIT Civil Engineering students
View of the hills in the valley facing the Chinese border.

[Caption of feature photo above: Casey and Ryan (R) pose with fellow hostelers on the Nature Walk at Nagarkot.]

Leave a comment