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  • Locations: Naankuse, Namibia
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Budget Sheets: Fall
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:
Namibia: WAO Drones (Fall)
The mission of the fall semester Namibia Wildlife Aerial Observatory (WAO) study abroad program is to assist the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and private landowners of Namibia with the protection of their endangered wildlife.
Participate in the next phase of the first-of-its kind, wildlife aerial observatory (WAO) research project. The project aims to bring unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to Naankuse Nature Reserve to help better study and protect wildlife from poaching and further decimation. Participants will work alongside locals, and in small multi-disciplinary research teams with other NC State students from engineering, zoology, the biological sciences, and other disciplines. Accommodations are at the Naankuse Nature Reserve. Overnight group excursions are also arranged to culturally significant sites throughout Namibia, and other African nature reserves.
All students are required to take the corresponding research courses, along with IPGK 295. Additional courses may be selected from the following.
  • Courses
    • MAE 495 - Special Topics in MAE: Wildlife Engineering in Namibia (3 credits)
    • MAE 496 - Research in Wildlife Engineering (3 credits)
    • MAE 480 - Aerospace Vehicle Design I (3 credits)
    • MAE 416 - Mechanical Engineering Design (4 credits)
    • IPGK 295 - Interdisciplinary Perspectives GEP (3 credits)
    • ZO 486 - Zoology Capstone: Wildlife Conservation in Namibia (3 credits)
    • ZO 233 - Human-Animal Interactions (3 credits) or  ZO 410 - Introduction to Animal Behavior (3 credits)
    • More courses will be announced soon...
  • NC State Program Cost
    • $11,500 - $11,750 - Estimated Range   
    • Budget Sheet
  • Program Dates
    • August 12 - October 20, 2018
  • Location
    • Naankuse, Namibia
  • Contact
    • Larry Silverberg, Director/Instructor,
    • Werner Dorgeloh, Assistant Director/Instructor
    • Dr. Jenny Campbell, Instructor,
  • Eligibility
    • 2.5 GPA
    • Junior standing
    • Not on active disciplinary probation
    • Not on academic integrity probation currently or during the prior semester
Geographically, Namibia is approximately six times larger than North Carolina, but the entire population is about 2.1 million people. It borders the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South Africa and Botswana to the South and East, respectively. Program participants will reside in the Naankuse Wildlife Sanctuary, approximately 30 minutes by car from the country's largest city and capital, Windhoek. The Wildlife Sanctuary has a large and diverse population of free-roaming wild animals, such as giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, springbok, jackal, kudu, hartebeest, and others. It's sunny with low humidity and low precipitation, and an average fall temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Experience
Participate in the development of a first-of-its kind, wildlife aerial observatory (WAO) that protects wildlife and enables scientists to study wildlife behaviors. Study native wildlife (cheetahs, springboks, giraffes, zebras, etc.), witness the natural beauty, and work closely with the local people. Read this article from NC State News for a glimpse into the program and student experience in fall 2017.
Individual or small group undergraduate research project evolving from a mutual student-faculty interest. A conference paper or journal article will be published from the work.

Spring 2018 Preparations: Two-day workshop that is completed prior to travel abroad. Each student builds his or her own Racing Drone. The student’s research project is also selected at this time.
Fall 2018 Research: Hands-on research project is conducted in Namibia during this study abroad period. The research is directed by the faculty mentor with input from the local mentor.

This course is being offered as a semester abroad, combining lectures and field work. It provides background information on African landscapes and wildlife, as well as managing parks and wildlife populations. The course highlights and investigates the reasons, the extent, and possible solutions to the international wildlife trade and poaching. A large part of the course involves practicing and applying technologies to monitor wildlife populations, data analyses and interpretation.

Lectures: African Landscapes; African Wildlife – Species; African Wildlife – Behavior; Population Dynamics; Counting Techniques; Park Management; International Wildlife Trade; Poaching
Field Work:  Identify and discuss species at Naankuse; testing and practicing to fly UAV’s; downloading, analyzing and interpreting data; meetings and discussions with MET staff.

About the Program Staff
Program Director and Instructor:  Dr. Larry M. Silverberg,, manages a research & development program in unmanned aerial systems that supports funded undergraduate and graduate student projects and provides customers with aerial system solutions to their problems. The wildlife aerial observatory (WAO) is being built as part of this research and development program. The WAO will act as a field station where wild animals can be protected and animal behaviors can be studied like never before.

Assistant Director and Intructor: Dr. Werner Dorgeloh, is a wildlife expert. He was born and raised in Namibia, and has taught classes addressing wildlife conservation, technologies that assist in wildlife conservation, and issues vital to protecting wildlife. Additionally, he has led NC State study abroad programs to Namibia for over a decade. 

Instructor: Dr. Jenny Campbell, is a teaching associate professor and the undergraduate director for the BS degree in Zoology. She has worked with elephants, right whales, red wolves, and lemurs and is currently focusing on the human-animal relationship as a professor at NC State.

On-site Program Manager: Joe Manning,, is a Doctoral Student in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. He brings broad engineering experiences to this project. Since 2008 he has served as a forensic engineer for accident reconstruction, since 2012 served as chief operating engineer for a family owned (his family) candy company called Butterfields, and is currently co-leader of the “Kitty Hawk”  project in which a student-built autonomous, vertical take-off-and-land fixed-wing drone is set to fly autonomously across NC (about 800 km). This study abroad project and his contributions to the development/deployment of WAO, are in partial fulfillment of his doctoral degree requirements.
Participants will live at Naankuse, a sanctuary setup to accommodate student groups. There will be two on-site counselors monitoring and coordinating day-to-day. One is local to Naankuse and he/she will be trained in directing students. The other is a PhD student from NC State who will be housed with the students. Included with accommodations are student meals for the length of the program.
The University reserves the right to alter the program format and/or costs in case of conditions beyond its control. If the program is canceled or a student withdraws, a refund of program costs may not be available in all cases. Please refer to the Study Abroad Office Refund Policy for details. Contact us at:

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2018 03/01/2018
Rolling Admission 08/12/2018 10/20/2018

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be notified of acceptance in 2 to 4 weeks.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.