Karina shares her story with Women and Drones
Where do your live?
Riga, Riga Latvia
In which sector do you work?
UAS, VTOL, Education
What did you do prior to coming into the industry?
I’m still very young (22 years old), so I finished high school and started to study Confectionary and bakery because that’s what I am really good at. But the drone industry came storming into my life and changed its course. However, before starting to work and teach in the industry I have participated in space modeling and drone racing competitions – in some as a referee, in others as a participant.
How did you get started in the drone industry?
I wasn’t planning on that, but a friend of mine gave me a Tiny Whoop (small drone) one evening and said, “Learn to fly, we are going to Estonia for a competition tomorrow”. At first, I didn’t get it, because everything seemed so hard (especially, flying in acro mode), but the more I understood, the more I fell in love with the industry.
So, competitions were the first step that draw me to the industry. I started competing back in 2016. Since then, there have been many podiums and medals I’ve gotten. I am most satisfied with my first ever rocket competition because I got into the finals for 3 different classes and 2 of them got me on the podium. Also, I got the 2nd place in 2017 Latvian Championship for Space models, which granted me a spot to participate in European Championship in Poland. I also got a chance to participate in the 2018 World Championship, but I didn’t feel ready for it, so I gave my spot to another teammate and went there as a helper for Team Latvia. As for drone racing, I haven’t been able to get any big achievements, because there are way too many faster pilots than I am, and I’ve never felt the need to be the best at it, I go to events for people and the atmosphere.
Tell us about your current organization
I work at FIXAR – the company that develops software and aircraft design for commercial autonomous UAVs for industrial applications. The company grows and expands fast. Our current flagship FIXAR 007 is designed with fixed angle rotors that allows vertical takeoff and landing from challenging terrains, the model is robust with a cruise speed of 65-72 km/h (40-45 mph), meanwhile, drone missions are set up within in-house developed software – xGroundControl. Missions are fully autonomous and 5 times more efficient than average copter or plane in a similar class. This is what drives our team – develop safe and efficient solutions that can ease life and make tasks convenient and safe for the operators.
The other organization is Riga Young Technicians Center, where I teach children and youth about drones and how to operate them. We also organize and participate in various events.
Tell us about your current role in the industry
At the moment, I am the Senior Drone Operator and Clients Training Specialist at FIXAR Global and a teacher in Riga Young Technicians Center. During the day I test FIXAR drones, keep in touch with our partners and help them. My main duties at FIXAR include testing new features for our xGroundControl Software, trying to think of improvements we could make, to make it even better and easier for the clients to understand and work with, training clients on how to operate our drone and the software, doing demo flights for our potential clients.
But in the evenings, I teach children and youth (ages 10-25) about drone racing, building drones and the industry itself. In these classes, we teach new skills in building and repairing drones, learn basic knowledge of electronics, learn to use various tools, learn the basics of soldering. We also prepare students to participate in both local and international competitions and World Cup stages with our self-made drones or the manufactured ones. I love seeing progress in the pupils. They come in for their first lessons, not knowing anything about drones and in no time, they are already better than I am. It’s fascinating how fast they learn and how many ideas they have.
What do you like most about being in the industry?
My favorite thing is that everything changes so fast, that you always have to keep up with the newest innovations and, sometimes, be a part of them. Everyone in this industry is so welcoming and helpful, no one gets rejected or made fun of.
What’s your favorite type of project and why?
It’s very hard to choose just one favorite. The whole process together is what keeps me going. Some days my favorite thing is teaching other people, other days it’s just training on test fields. Sometimes, even flying in the simulator and getting the fastest lap time.
What excites you most about the potential for women in the industry?
The most exciting thing is that this industry is not all about power, it’s about being innovative and creative. We live in a century, where we have the power and ability to change the world and see the world from a different perspective. We can be bigger, better, and most importantly, be an inspiration to other young women.
What’s your current favorite drone to fly?
I have to say that my favorite drone is my self-made racing drone on the “STARDUST” frame.
What You’ve Learned
What has been your most significant “lightbulb” moment since you entered the industry?
Everything changes all the time, and you are capable of being the change you wish to see!
What have you learned you wish you had known when you got started?
If you can think of something, there is a possibility to make it come true. There are no stupid ideas.
Any suggestions for other women entering the industry?
Don’t be afraid to get started, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what your nationality, race, or age is. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, if it’s needed. If you want something, you can get it, you just have to keep going!