Today, building designs have become more complex and highly detailed. Buildings are larger, have more unusual shapes, and contain a variety of hazards. Accordingly, the practice of fire protection engineering has been evolving at a rapid pace. Engineering tools are becoming more plentiful and more sophisticated, and the codes and standards that govern fire protection engineering design have grown more complicated.
The education programs that teach fire
protection engineering have had to evolve to stay ahead of the
profession. The Society of Fire Protection Engineers conducted a
"roundtable" discussion of leading faculty from universities that offer
degree programs in fire protection engineering. The purpose of the
roundtable was to gain insight into the academic focus of the programs,
the challenges that they face, and their vision of the future. The
participants in the roundtable can be found in table 1.
Hurley: What degree program(s) do you offer?
Notarianni: WPI offers a master of science and PhD degrees. We also offer a five year bachelor of science/master of science program for high school graduates. WPI graduates enter the FPE job market with two degrees – a B.S. in one of the traditional engineering disciplines, such as mechanical, civil, chemical, electrical, or other engineering. We also offer a graduate certificate in fire protection engineering and an advanced certificate in fire protection engineering.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University offers PhD and masters programs in fire safety engineering. At the masters level, there are three options: master of applied science, master of engineering with project and masters of engineering with coursework only.
Chow: Hong Kong Polytechnic University offers a master of science in fire and safety engineering and master and doctorate degrees in fire science and engineering. We also offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in building services engineering and facilities management, where students may choose to take fire engineering courses. We plan to offer undergraduate degree programs in risk and safety assessment and in building energy technology and management soon.
Mowrer: Cal Poly offers a master of science degree in fire protection engineering.
Merci: The International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE) is jointly issued by Ghent University, Lund University and The University of Edinburgh. We offer a joint master of science degree. Each partner university also offers PhD degrees.
Jönsson: Lund University has bachelors program in fire protection engineering program and a masters and PhD program in risk management and safety engineering. In addition, the department is involved in two international master programs, namely the master of disaster management program and the International Master of Fire Safety Engineering program.
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury offers a masters of engineering and a PhD in fire engineering.
Torero: The University of Edinburgh offers a bachelors degree in structural and fire safety engineering, a master of engineering in structural and fire safety engineering, and a master of science in structures and fire engineering. We are also part of the international masters in fire safety engineering master's program in partnership with Ghent & Lund.
Milke: The University of Maryland offers bachelors, master of science, and master of engineering. The master of engineering degree is available in both on-campus and on-line formats. We also offer a PhD in collaboration with other engineering departments.
Boyce: The University of Ulster offers a post graduate diploma/master of science in fire safety engineering. Students can attend on either a full-time or part-time basis. We also offer a PhD program in fire safety engineering.
Weckman: The degree at the University of Waterloo are mechanical engineering with a fire safety certificate. We offer a master of engineering that only requires coursework, a master of science that requires thesis research, and a PhD.
Hurley: What is the background of your typical students?
Chow: Undergraduate students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University may enter directly from high school or with some college. Graduate students generally have a bachelors degree and professional experience.
Milke: The student population at the University of Maryland is diverse. Many undergraduates come to us directly from high school. Most of the undergraduates are from the U.S. Graduate students come directly from their undergraduate studies or with some professional experience, with many being students from outside the U.S.
Jönsson: About 70% of the undergraduate students at Lund come directly from high school; about 25% of the students are women.
Mowrer: Cal Poly attracts two types of students, students continuing directly from their undergraduate studies and students who are working professionals interested in enhancing their knowledge and credentials in fire protection engineering.
Notarianni: WPI students come into the program from over 40 nations with undergraduate degrees in mechanical, civil, chemical, electrical, environmental, and robotic engineering, along with physics, chemistry, math, computer science, architecture, the social sciences, and others.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University has three types of students. Students who have just received their undergraduate degree in engineering, mainly civil or mechanical and would like to go on to graduate school for a masters degree; students who already have a masters degree and would like to continue to do a PhD; and students who have been working for sometime in the field of fire safety engineering and would like to improve their knowledge in the field. Typically the last group of students enrolls in the masters of engineering programs.
Merci: Students seeking the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering have a master or bachelor degree in engineering. Most incoming students do not have professional experience.
Fleischmann: Students entering the University of Canterbury have an undergraduate engineering degree from an accredited program.
Torero: Most students coming in to the University of Edinburgh have a background in civil engineering (about 70%). Others come from mechanical engineering (20%), chemical engineering (5%) or other sources (5%).
Boyce: Typical full-time students at the University of Ulster come from civil engineering, construction engineering, fire safety engineering or fundamental science backgrounds. Part time students come from similar academic backgrounds and are usually employed as building control officers or fire services personnel.
Weckman: Most students entering the University of Waterloo have an education in chemical, mechanical or civil engineering; some come from chemistry or industrial engineering. Many have been exposed to fire safety through a 4th year elective course at Waterloo or Saskatchewan.
Hurley: What are your admission requirements?
Torero: Students entering the University of Edinburgh seeking a bachelor of engineering or a masters of engineering degree should have a strong background in math and physics.
Milke: For undergraduates entering the University of Maryland, we consider scores on standardized tests, high school grades for entering freshmen, and grades at other institutions and completion of gateway courses for transfer students. For graduate students, we require a bachelors degree in engineering with a minimum grade average, though will consider those with non-engineering degrees if they have taken a core set of engineering courses.
Notarianni: High school graduates applying for the combined bachelors/masters program must meet normal undergraduate admission criteria and submit a two-page essay articulating their interest in the field. Applicants for the master's or certificate programs should have a bachelors degree in engineering, engineering technology or the physical sciences. Applicants with no FPE work experience must submit a two-page essay articulating their interest in the field. Students with science degrees and graduates of some engineering technology disciplines may be required to take selected undergraduate courses to round out their backgrounds. GRE scores are required for all international students and PhD applicants, and strongly recommended for all others.
Weckman: Masters students at the University of Waterloo should have a bachelor of science degree with good grades. For PhD-level study, they should have a master of science with good grades.
Hadjisophocleous: The minimum requirement for admission to the master's program is a baccalaureate degree, with at least a 70% average in civil engineering or the sub-disciplines normally considered to be part of civil engineering. Applications will also be considered from graduates of other engineering programs or honours science programs; however, they may have additional academic requirements once they are admitted. The normal requirement for admission into the PhD program is a master's degree with a thesis in civil engineering. Students with master's degrees in other engineering disciplines are also admitted, but in some cases additional courses may be specified.
Boyce: The University of Ulster requires a degree in a related science or engineering discipline. Additionally, students must have a strong mathematical background.
Chow: Undergraduate students must have a high school diploma or an associates degree. Graduate students must have a bachelors degree or professional qualifications.
Mowrer: In general, the FPE program at Cal Poly requires students to have a BS degree in engineering or a related technical field. Students should have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher for full admission, but students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher are considered for conditional admission with strong recommendations.
Merci: The minimum graduate admission requirements for the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering are essentially: a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution (minimum 3 years full-time study) in engineering, material sciences, chemistry, physics, architecture, urbanism and spatial planning or a related discipline.
Jönsson: Students coming into Lund as undergraduates must have a basic high school education and certain expertise in mathematics, physics and chemistry. The intake is purely on the grade average from high school. For the FPE program it is quite high, close to an "A" average.
Fleischmann: Students entering the University of Canterbury must have an undergraduate engineering degree. Students with a degree in science, architecture or building sciences must take a bridging course.
Hurley: What is the academic focus of your program? Do you emphasize certain aspects of fire protection engineering or do you have a broad focus?
Boyce: The aim of the University of Ulster is to produce graduates who will have an in-depth knowledge, understanding and critical awareness of the scientific, technological, psychological, physiological and socio-economic principles and techniques upon which fire safety engineering applications are founded. In this respect, we cover the core science and engineering subjects. There is also a very practical focus where students are required to apply their knowledge and skills in developing solutions to a range of complex and real fire safety engineering problems.
Mowrer: Cal Poly has a well-deserved reputation for its "learn by doing" approach to education. In keeping with this philosophy, the FPE program at Cal Poly is intent on educating students who are fundamentally sound as well as practically applied. To this end, students are educated in the fundamentals of fire science as well as in the analysis and design of fire protection features and systems. In this regard, the FPE program at Cal Poly has a broad perspective.
Notarianni: Teaching at WPI combines on-campus and on-line instruction seamlessly. We believe that students should understand how to apply knowledge – not just how to cite facts and theories. Our undergraduates and graduate students emerge ready to take on some of the most difficult challenges in FPE. More important, they understand how their work can truly have a positive impact on society and improve people's lives.
Merci: The students in the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering program can follow different tracks. After their first semester (basic fire protection engineering) they all go to Lund for their second semester, where they study advanced fire dynamics, risk assessment and human behavior. In their third semester, they choose between a focus on construction engineering (Edinburgh) or broad fire protection engineering (Ghent). The choice of the master thesis (semester 4) allows the students to further broaden or focus.
Chow: The focus at Hong Kong Polytechnic University is the integration of fire safety with building services and facility management.
Weckman: We maintain a broad focus at the University of Waterloo. The course offerings currently include fire dynamics, advanced enclosure fires, fire modeling, fire risk, fire resistance, fire testing and two advanced fire safety design courses. Additional specialty courses are considered as opportunities arise and funding/interest permit.
Jönsson: Lund has a broad focus, but an in depth focus in fire dynamics, risk analysis and human behavior and very little or nothing in structural engineering and industrial fire protection.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University has quite a broad focus that encompasses both full-scale and small scale testing as well as computer modeling to study structural fire safety and the study of the performance of active fire protection systems.
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury provides a very broad fire engineering education, although with most of our graduate going into the consulting industry, our focus could be described as more practice rather than research focused.
Torero: At the University of Edinburgh, we have a broad focus, while encouraging students to gain deep understanding.
Milke: The University of Maryland also has a broad focus.
Hurley: What are your graduation requirements?
Milke: The bachelors program is a nominal four-year course of study with classes in the major, math, science, etc. The master of science degree is a nominal 1.5 to two-year course of study with a thesis, while the master of engineering does not require a thesis. Of course, part-time students generally take longer.
Fleischmann: Masters students at the University of Canterbury students must complete six courses and thesis or project report, which typically takes 18 to 24 months of full time study. Doctoral students must complete a thesis, which generally takes 36 to 48 months of full time study.
Hadjisophocleous: Study at the master's level can be pursued through a thesis leading to a master of science, a project option leading to a master of engineering, or a coursework option leading to a master of engineering. The project replaces some of the coursework, and the thesis replaces more of the coursework than the project does. The requirements for the PhD degree, after the master's degree, include additional coursework and a dissertation.
Notarianni: The masters degree requires two years of study and the PhD requires about six years study on a full-time basis. Graduate certificates require a minimum of four courses. All PhD students conduct and publish scholarly research that advances knowledge in the field. Master of science students can choose either a thesis or non-thesis option.
Mowrer: Students must successfully complete ten courses and a culminating project. Students must present and defend their culminating projects to a review panel.
Weckman: To receive a master of engineering from the University of Waterloo, students must complete eight courses. A fire safety design project can be substituted for two of the courses. Master of science students must complete four courses with a research thesis, and a PhD requires an additional three courses with a research thesis.
Chow: At Hong Kong Polytechnic University, all degree programs require a combination of academic credits and independent study.
Merci: The students in the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering must pass all courses and successfully complete and defend a master thesis. The entire program takes about 20 months.
Jönsson: To graduate from Lund, students must pass all the courses and complete a thesis.
Torero: Students at Edinburgh must complete a combination of courses and research.
Boyce: Students at the University of Ulster must complete eight modules for the award of a post graduate diploma and must additionally complete a dissertation in a fire science related area for the award of a master of science degree.
Hurley: What success do your students have in obtaining a job following graduation?
Fleischmann: Canterbury's students find it easy to obtain employment in fire engineering. Most students have found employment before graduating and in most cases have multiple offers to consider.
Notarianni: The number of career opportunities consistently outweighs the number of engineers available to fill them. In fact, the unemployment rate of WPI's fire protection engineering grads today is little more than zero percent, a far cry from many professions.
Jönsson: All graduates from Lund have found employment.
Torero: All graduates from the University of Edinburgh have found jobs, usually before graduation.
Hadjisophocleous: All of Carleton University's students find employment by the time they graduate.
Weckman: Graduates from the University of Waterloo have very good success. All our graduates are employed.
Chow: Similarly, since the first cohort graduated in 1989, graduates from Hong Kong Polytechnic University have had no difficulty in getting a job in fire engineering or building services engineering.
Mowrer: One of the first students scheduled to graduate from the Cal Poly FPE program has been interning with a prominent FPE consulting firm and has just accepted an offer of full-time employment with this firm. Other full-time students seeking employment following graduation are pursuing a number of leads.
Milke: graduates from the University of Maryland have a very high success rate in finding employment.
Boyce: Graduates from the University of Ulster also have a high success rate in employment within the industry, even before graduation. Each year approximately 20-25% have embarked on further study both in the UK and abroad.
Hurley: If there was one thing the profession could to assist your program, what might that be?
Torero: Engage directly with students (e.g. guest lectures, internships). Students' motivation and practical understanding increases significantly with first-hand experience.
Notarianni: Help us get the word out that fire protection engineering is a good career choice.
Mowrer: The mission of the FPE program at Cal Poly is primarily to educate students to become productive practicing fire protection engineers. The one thing that the profession can do to help the FPE program at Cal Poly achieve this goal is to help recruit talented and interested students to the program and mentor these students during their education in FPE.
Hadjisophocleous: Increase awareness of the program among fire protection practitioners and potential employers.
Chow: Industry assistance in research funding.
Merci: Guaranteed sponsorships for high-quality students to enable them to register for the program - and to live and travel in Europe. Promotion of the program and internships would also be good.
Jönsson: At Lund, we would like to see more internships abroad.
Milke: We would like to see an increase in the need for formal education in fire protection engineering. Financial support for research, assistantships and scholarships would also be great.
Boyce: We would like the opportunity for the program to be fully accredited by a fire safety engineering professional body. Unfortunately, at the moment within the UK this opportunity does not exist - the IFE can give Approval with Academic Exemption but are not in a position currently to accredit courses. It is important that we are in a position to get accreditation, given that the UK's engineering council will shortly require accredited masters qualifications for chartered engineering status.
Weckman: As with other universities, an infusion of funding would help all programs. For us, this could take the form of co-sponsorship of one of our courses on an annual basis. The course could be a key course for future FSEs and therefore a mechanism should be established to have it count towards continuing education credits as that would undoubtedly attract additional students from industry as well. This could then domino into additional contacts and support for the program over time.
As direct funding is likely not in anyone's mandate, SFPE could provide networking and marketing support. One way would be to facilitate the circulation of program and course information.
Another indirect way of helping programs across the board is to undertake a targeted marketing campaign to increase the visibility and recognition of the importance of the fire safety profession to academics and leaders of the institutions who currently have the programs. We would have to define how fire safety is currently viewed by institutions and why. Address this in the presentation and sell the profession as a challenging, multidisciplinary area for which much of the science is still emerging and with many new problems to address.
We should develop broad based models for graduate level curricula in fire safety engineering. The profession/professional organizations could perhaps play a role in developing specialized graduate courses or course modules that could be tailored by individual faculty/programs to suit their specific needs. This can be a two edged sword because all partners have to always keep in mind and respect the need for final academic freedom in course development. There have been many programs (one in fire safety that I know of) that were eventually derailed because it was perceived that they were being driven only by the needs of industry/professional organizations and did not constitute appropriate university graduate level education and research therefore were not supported by their home institutions.
Some concrete ideas: Establish third party fire safety engineering visiting team(s) to sell the concept, importance and opportunity that exists for our institutions if they invest further in fire safety education and research. The team must design materials for, and make the pitch to, the upper administration of the various institutions through a visit and appropriate ‘dog and pony' show. Types of material that might be needed are: An account of all the fire safety related professionals across government and industry – not counted as fire safety engineers but figure out how many engineers actually have to deal with the core competencies of a fire safety program in their day to day activities. This, along with other arguments, establishes the need for education in the area. If at all possible these same industries must be convinced that it is in their best interest to support and advocate for education and research in fire safety. For this, it would be extremely helpful to compile a list of industries and organizations that would be willing to host internships and or short visits (i.e. shadowing an FPE) in order to network and expose students to the profession but also to interest more students in pursuing graduate work in that area.
Simultaneously, a concerted effort must be made to impart awareness of the multidisciplinary nature of the field, its links to, and across, an extremely broad range of other engineering/scientific disciplines, some cool/necessary research challenges that must be overcome, the necessity for training and research in the area, and the societal importance of fire safety, fire risk, hazard assessment, etc. to public safety and the public good. It never ceases to amaze me how an individual within an institution can try to make such pitches until they are blue in the face with little impact, but when a visiting team of professionals comes on campus and makes the same case it is suddenly something worth listening to! As fire safety is currently sold, it does not compete with other (emerging, multidisciplinary) areas (i.e. nanotechnology) which are made to look glitzy by good marketing and sold as solving problems of public health and safety in a way that captures the imagination of the public.
Fleischmann: Employers should encourage students to complete their studies before they begin working!
Hurley: Anything else that you would like to add?
Mowrer: The FPE program at Cal Poly would like to thank the SFPE for supporting the establishment of the program. Maintaining small engineering programs in large institutions is always challenging, so we need the ongoing support of the SFPE and its members to help ensure our long term viability and success.
Hurley: What is your current enrollment? Do you have room for growth?
Jönsson: Lund admits 50 students every year, and we have about 200 enrolled in the fire protection engineering program. We have room for growth but the University does not allow us to grow, since that would mean that another program needs to cut back.
Chow: Hong Kong Polytechnic University has 185 undergraduate students and 85 graduate students who study fire safety engineering.
Torero: At the University of Edinburgh, we have 55 students in the bachelor of engineering/master of engineering program. We also have six students in the master of science in structures and fire engineering program. And, yes, there is room for growth.
Notarianni: WPI has 388 total enrolled FPE students at this time. There are 153 undergraduate students in our Combined BS/MS program, 190 master's students, 10 PhD students, and 35 certificate students. We have room to grow; we just hired a new professor and we are tripling our lab and other spaces.
Milke: At the University of Maryland, we currently have about 125 undergraduate students, 30 on-site masters students, 50 distance masters students, and, ten PhD students. Yes, there is room for growth.
Mowrer: During its first year of operation the Cal Poly FPE program averaged approximately 11 students per course in the 8 courses offered. The Cal Poly FPE program does have room for growth.
Boyce: The University of Ulster has 23 full time students and 11 part-time, which are typical of the last few years. Our numbers aren't capped by the University, so yes, we have room for expansion.
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury has 17 Full-time students and 25 Part-time students. With the current staffing level we are not planning growth.
Weckman: We have 11 masters students at the University of Waterloo and five PhD students at the University of Waterloo. There is room for growth particularly in the master of engineering coursework program. We will become faculty-advisor limited in the master of science and PhD programs fairly soon.
Hadjisophocleous: Currently, Carleton University has 7 PhD students and 14 Masters students. There is room for more Masters students, especially in the MEng programs.
Merci: Current enrollment in the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering is between 20 and 30 students per year. There is room for some growth.
Hurley: How many students graduate per year?
Boyce: About 25-35 students graduate from the University of Ulster per year.
Milke: The University of Maryland graduates about 35 undergraduate, 30 masters and one or two PhDs per year.
Mowrer: The Cal Poly FPE program launched in the Fall of 2010. The first students should graduate in the Winter or Spring of 2012. At steady state, the FPE program at Cal Poly anticipates graduating 20 to 30 students per year.
Jönsson: About 40 students graduate from Lund each year.
Notarianni: Each year, WPI graduates about 30 – 35 with a master of science, 5-10 certificates, and 1 – 2 PhDs.
Hadjisophocleous: The program at Carleton University is a young program. Our most recent graduation numbers are 2 PhD and 4 Masters students.
Chow: Hong Kong Polytechnic University graduates about 150 students with bachelor's degrees in fire safety engineering and 40 with masters degrees.
Fleischmann: On average, the University of Canterbury graduates six masters students and one PhD. We also issue an average of two post graduate certificates.
Torero: Thirteen students graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2011, and we expect that number to rise over the next few years.
Weckman: About 1-3 students graduate from the University of Waterloo each year, but with many part time students on custom study schedules, it varies considerably from year to year.
Hurley: What are your current areas of research?
Mowrer: The FPE program at Cal Poly has obtained three significant research grants during its first year of operation. An education grant from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has focused on developing the course on fundamental thermal sciences. A research grant from the Fire Protection Research Foundation has been used to perform a review and gap analysis of regulatory and safety issues associated with implementation of the smart grid. A recent research grant from the USFA assistance to firefighters grant program will be used to investigate the capabilities and limitations of compressed air foam systems in structural firefighting.
Jönsson: The research at Lund in the field of fire safety engineering has encompassed the description of the evolution of a fire, human behavior in the event of fire, extinguishing techniques and extinguishing agents, industrial fire protection systems, design related to fire technology, and community emergency services.
Weckman: Research at the University of Waterloo includes fire service issues, such as suppression and ventilation; fire behavior and smoke movement; fire performance of materials; analysis of gases evolved from fires; scaling, comparison and analysis of fire performance tests; fire loading on structures; fire suppression; risk based methods for fire safety analysis and performance based design; fire hazard assessment and fire modeling.
Torero: At the University of Edinburgh, our research presently includes model validation, behavior of structures in fire, fire behavior of nano-composite materials, production of toxic species in fires, fire ignition, design fires, and post-earthquake fires.
Fleischmann: The areas of research focus at the University of Canterbury are compartment fire modeling, fire risk assessment, human behavior in fire, evacuation modeling, structural fire resistance modeling, performance-based fire design regulations and structural response of timber buildings in fire.
Merci: At Ghent University, the main focus is on fire dynamics (particularly modeling and numerical simulations, but supported by full-scale experiments), fire monitoring and forecasting, and structural engineering.
Notarianni: FPE research at WPI includes: fire and materials, combustion and explosion protection; regulatory policy, risk, and engineering frameworks; understanding and forecasting wildfires; and firefighter safety and policy.
Hadjisophocleous: The current areas of research at Carleton University include development of computer models, structural fire performance, material performance in fire, smoke management in large spaces and tunnels, suppression in tunnels, and fire development in compartments and train cars.
Chow: Research at Hong Kong Polytechnic University includes fire modeling, suppression systems, post-flashover fires, smoke management and control, performance-based design, and advanced topics in fire dynamics.
Milke: At the University of Maryland, we conduct research on a wide variety of fire protection engineering topics, including suppression, combustion, detection, egress, structures, and modeling.
Boyce: Research at the University of Ulster includes fire dynamics, structural fire engineering, fire modeling, suppression and human behavior in fire.
Hurley: What kind of laboratory facilities do you have?
Weckman: The University of Waterloo is supported by world class fire research infrastructure worth over $5.6M. We have a smaller-scale fire performance testing lab, an applied health sciences lab and a large test enclosure with a fan system. Large structures can be tested in the main test enclosure under various fire and ambient wind conditions. A full-scale, two-story residential house burn prop can is also available. Specialty labs include facilities to test and study a wide range of physiological issues and impacts associated with fire fighting and related occupations. We also have many bench-scale apparatus.
Boyce: In September 2000, the University of Ulster was the recipient of a £5.7m award to build new fire safety engineering laboratories. The laboratory facilities comprise a large burn hall (for large scale fire and structural research), a fire dynamics laboratory (small and medium scale research), and a fire modeling (CFD) suite. All students undertake a laboratory module which comprises a range of small scale tests, and they have access to all of the equipment to facilitate experimental work for their masters dissertations.
Notarianni: WPI's state-of-the-art fire science laboratory supports experimentation in fire dynamics, combustion/ explosion phenomena, detection, and fire and explosion suppression. The wet lab area supports water-based fire suppression and demonstration projects. A fire modeling laboratory specializes in computer applications to fire protection engineering and research. The department's combustion laboratory studies fundamental combustion properties as they relate to fire safety. Also, a new 1,600 m2 facility is currently under construction. This facility will include several laboratory spaces, including a fundamentals lab and a nine meter high fire engineering lab. The new laboratory space will include facilities designed to conduct research on urban-wildland fires. We also have many bench-scale equipment.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University has large scale fire research facilities that include a 20 m x 20 m by 27 m tall atrium, a 10 m x 37.5 m x 6 m high tunnel and a burn hall. In the tunnel facility we can conduct tests on train cars. Our heat release measurement system has been used for fire tests with heat release rates up to 50 MW. In the burn hall we have a full-scale furnace for conducting tests on connections and a furnace for tests on building panels. We use computer models to simulate our full-scale tests and to conduct parametric studies. In addition, we have a laboratory equipped with bench-scale apparatus.
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury has bench-scale lab that focuses on flammability assessment. This lab also has a number of specialized experimental apparatus including a heated smoke generating wind tunnel and vertical melting apparatus. We also have a medium scale lab with a furniture calorimeter hood with 4 m3/s exhaust. Being part of a large civil engineering department gives our students access to a large fluids laboratory for salt water modeling with specialized flow visualization equipment including concentration fields and particle tracking. There is also high ceiling space for special experiments such as spill plumes that is available on a temporary basis.
Mowrer: The FPE program at Cal Poly is in the process of obtaining a cone calorimeter from another California state agency. The FPE program is also working with local CalFire officials to develop a joint research/training facility for larger scale fire testing. Students use buildings on- and off-campus for real-world case studies of fire protection features, systems and performance.
Merci: At Ghent University, there is access to a fire lab, offering research related custom-made full-scale fire tests, as well as standardized reaction-to-fire and fire resistance tests.
Jönsson: Lund has two fire laboratories. The laboratories are equipped with cone calorimeter, furniture calorimeter, gas analysis equipment, laser measurement techniques, wind tunnel for sprinkler tests, and an ISO fire room in 1/3-scale and 1/2-scale. We also have advanced computing facilities.
Milke: The University of Maryland has bench-scale standardized tests, intermediate scale (< 1 MW fires) apparatus, spray analysis, salt water tank for scaled studies, and large-scale capabilities.
Torero: At the University of Edinburgh, we have a structural laboratory for analyzing behavior of structures in fire and various bench-scale apparatus.
Chow: Hong Kong Polytechnic has bench-scale laboratory equipment on site and has access to full-scale burning test sites in China.
Hurley: Where do your students typically work after graduation?
Jönsson: About 60% of the undergraduate students continue for a masters degree in risk management and safety engineering and 30% continue for a 1-year education as a battalion chief. Typical work is municipal fire brigade (40%), consultants (40%), government (10%) and insurance (10%.)
Notarianni: WPI's graduates perform fire experimentation and research. They perform risk analyses of major industrial facilities and consult with architects on buildings ranging from high-rise structures to hospitals, hotels, and sports stadiums. They engineer safe buildings, ships, trains, and other facilities using the latest principles of performance-based design.
Mowrer: Many of the students in the Cal Poly FPE program are working professionals who are likely to continue in their current employment upon graduation. Students seeking employment are expected to pursue opportunities throughout the FPE profession, with jobs in the consulting field expected to predominate at first.
Boyce: Students from the University of Ulster typically go into fire safety engineering consultancies. Each year, approximately 20-25% progress to PhD study, while fewer numbers join the fire services or work as fire safety advisors/managers.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University's students typically find employment with fire protection consulting firms, government, and educational and research institutions.
Chow: Graduates from Hong Kong Polytechnic University generally work for fire consultants, contractors, facility managers, fire and building officers, or as building services engineers.
Fleischmann: Most of Canterbury's graduates go into fire protection engineering consulting companies. A small number of graduates have gone to work for the fire service, local authorities, and product manufactures. Approximately half of our graduates choose to start their careers outside New Zealand.
Torero: Graduates from the University of Edinburgh work for consulting firms, in the oil and gas industry, in the forensic field, or for government laboratories or agencies.
Milke: graduates from the University of Maryland work for consulting engineering firms, government agencies, and large corporations.
Weckman: Graduates from the University of Waterloo work in building and fire consulting, research, code enforcement, fire investigation, and industry.
Hurley: What challenges do your program face?
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury has an ongoing problem with students that do not finish their degrees before leaving the university to seek employment. The industry demand is so high that many of the students are lured away from the university before they complete their degrees. Many students leave the university with the best intention of finishing their degree while they are working, but this proves to be very challenging once they face competing requirements on their time. This situation is not good for the student or the future of the industry. Research funding is also difficult to obtain. There is very little research funding for fire research and it is difficult to establish a long term research program without ongoing funding.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University's main challenge is to attract research funding to allow us to continue to do the full-scale testing that our facilities allow us to do. This is a challenge as this type of testing is very expensive both in materials and labor. Another challenge is to increase the number of faculty members in the field.
Chow: Honk Kong Polytechnic University could use more faculty.
Notarianni: Like other universities, a challenge at WPI is the lack of knowledge regarding fire protection engineering as a career choice. Also, the supply line for new professors needs improvement.
Mowrer: The FPE program at Cal Poly faces the usual challenges associated with being a small, unique program in a college dominated by large traditional engineering disciplines. The program also faces the challenge of starting up during this period of global economic uncertainty. Despite these challenges the FPE program at Cal Poly has enjoyed enthusiastic support from the Cal Poly community as well as the professional community.
Merci: One challenge is that students entering the program stem from all over the world, with very different backgrounds. The challenge is to bring them rapidly (within one semester) to a similar level of basic fire protection engineering knowledge. Another, more practical, challenge concerns housing and visa issues: the students must travel around in three European countries during their studies.
Jönsson: To get more of graduates from Lund to move abroad.
Torero: Challenges at the University of Edinburgh can be attributed to resistance to change. Fire protection engineering is evolving rapidly, so education needs to evolve with it.
Milke: The University of Maryland is a state school, and we rely on support from the state. However, with the current state budget challenges, only a minority of the department budget currently comes from the state. Satisfying the dual demands of being part of a research institution while fulfilling our mission as a land grant institution is a major challenge.
Weckman: Challenges at the University of Waterloo include a lack of funding and a lack of faculty. We also suffer from some of the same problems that the profession suffers: general marketing, difficulty with identity, difficulty in making and communicating case for importance of investment in the area.
Boyce: It is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit students with strong engineering mathematics skills. Fee increases and the current economic state will no doubt have an impact on applications in coming years.
Hurley: Where do you see your program in 5-10 years?
Torero: The program at the University of Edinburgh is improving, changing and evolving each year. Throughout this change, the program will remain extremely popular with students, despite being perceived as one of the toughest courses in engineering.
Merci: The International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering program should be a leading program, with around 30 students enrolling each year. The IMFSE degree should worldwide be recognized as a non-disputable quality label in the Fire Safety Engineering community and beyond.
Weckman: At the University of Waterloo, we would like to progress from a small ‘experimental' program to a well established, internationally recognized program with a critical mass of students, faculty and collaborators making significant contributions to the field. We would like to become a primary program for development of the next generation of fire protection engineering leaders – leaders in the profession, research organizations and universities/educational programs. We would also like to add additional courses to the curriculum in human behavior in fire, suppression, codes and standards, fire and forensics, professional development, etc.
Hadjisophocleous: First we would to see our program becoming fully accredited stand-alone program. This can be done by increasing the number of faculty members and students. With our growth rates I believe we can achieve this goal in the near future.
Milke: We expect modest growth in undergraduate enrollment at the University of Maryland, good growth in master of engineering program (especially if it becomes mandatory to have post-graduate studies to obtain professional licensure), and good growth in research support leading to an increased number of master of science and PhD students.
Mowrer: In 5 to 10 years, we see the FPE program at Cal Poly as being firmly established within the university and as a vital resource of fire protection engineering expertise to California and other western states, as well as to the United States and the world.
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury would like to expand our laboratory facilities to increase the capacity of our furniture extraction hood to 16 m3/s to accommodate larger experiments. We also would like to expand our structural fire resistance experimental capabilities by adding a meter-scale furnace.
Boyce: We will continue to consider other ways to widen access to the program at the University of Ulster for those in work or those from further afield.
Notarianni: We see what has become a growing PhD program at WPI. We see important research in urban-wildland fires. We see additional growth in the program size. We see increasing important and growing research between FPE faculty and faculty across many programs at WPI and beyond.
Chow: We anticipate more students from outside Hong Kong.
Jönsson: The program at Lund will probably change to a 2-year master's program.
Hurley: Is your program formally accredited?
Boyce: The University of Ulster would like the opportunity for the program to be fully accredited by a fire safety engineering professional body, since the UK's engineering council will shortly require accredited Master's qualifications for Chartered Engineer status. Unfortunately, at the moment within the UK, this opportunity does not exist as the IFE does not currently formally accredit courses.
Weckman: Fire safety is one specialty stream under a fully accredited graduate program in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. All courses must meet the full accreditation requirements of graduate studies programs across Canada.
Notarianni: All WPI programs (graduate and undergraduate) are accredited by the New England Association of States and Colleges. All undergraduate engineering programs are also accredited by ABET.
Mowrer: The FPE program at Cal Poly has been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. Like the other graduate programs in FPE as well as most graduate programs in other engineering disciplines, the FPE program at Cal Poly is not accredited by ABET.
Chow: We are accredited by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, UK.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University's program is accredited as a field of study in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Merci: The IMFSE study program is formally accredited by the European Commission through its Executive Agency Education Audiovisual & Culture.
Torero: The University of Edinburgh is accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the Institution of Structural Engineers.
Milke: The undergraduate program at the University of Maryland is accredited by ABET. Both the graduate and undergraduate programs are accredited by the Middle Atlantic States.
Jönsson: Yes, within the Swedish system.
Fleischmann: There currently is no accreditation of graduate engineering programs in New Zealand.
Hurley: What percentage of your students participate in internship or coop programs?
Notarianni: Approximately 80% of WPI's students complete an internship. This approach has proven to be a win-win-win opportunity for students as well as employers in a host of businesses and government agencies, and for WPI itself. Participants can start work and start earning money after just one semester of study. Both the employer and the student get to "try before they buy." And for WPI, student internships play an important role in making the FPE program so effective. Internships enable the faculty to maintain close ties with the businesses that hire our graduates, helping shape the FPE program and course content. WPI coordinates the program, identifying the needs of employers and furnishing them with the résumés of talented young men and women. After the initial contact, discussions are held directly between students and employers. The internship has no geographical restrictions and scheduling can be flexible. The student and his/her sponsor work together to formulate specific work-study schedules.
Weckman: Over 50% of the students at the University of Waterloo are part time students from the fire safety industry. Of our full time students, all have participated in co-op programs during their undergraduate studies. Since we do not yet have a formal internship option within the graduate program, we try to link the large projects and case studies in each course to industry. This provides enhanced academic and industrial experience to students during their graduate degrees and promotes networking opportunities for the future.
Chow: All undergraduate students at Hong Kong Polytechnic University participate in internship programs. Most of graduate students work in the industry.
Mowrer: The Cal Poly FPE program has not yet established formal internship or coop programs. Students seeking employment during their studies are encouraged and assisted in this quest. For example, one of our first full-time students has worked for a prominent FPE consulting firm over the Summer quarter and has accepted an offer of full-time employment with this firm upon graduation.
Torero: All of the students at the University of Edinburgh who complete a degree in fire safety engineering participate in an internship.
Milke: In any year, about 50% of the undergraduate students at the University of Maryland work as interns or in a coop. Before graduation, virtually all students will have that experience.
Jönsson: About 15% of Lund's students complete an internship of six months or longer; nearly all students complete a summer internship.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University has part time students who work full-time in the field.
Boyce: The University of Ulster has not yet established formal internship or coop programs.
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury does not have a formal internship or coop program either.
Hurley: How does your program remain connected with the fire protection engineering community?
Boyce: The faculty at the University of
Ulster work closely with the fire safety engineering community in course
development and delivery. We established an industrial panel, which
comprises representatives of the fire community to facilitate
communication and understanding between the university, the professional
Institutions and industry. The program also has close links with the
Institution of Fire Engineers. The program also benefits from
significant involvement of members of the fire safety engineering
community as visiting lecturers. Industrial involvement is particularly
relevant and evident within the fire safety engineering design project,
where the faculty work closely with practicing fire safety engineers in
developing design briefs for real building projects. In developing the
design solutions, students interact with many different fire safety
professionals working in the field.
Weckman: At the University of Waterloo,
we strive for regular communication with our students, industrial and
academic research partners and alumni. On a course by course basis, we
promote networking amongst students in the graduate program with members
of the community by arranging our courses so that we attract students
from industry to take individual courses with us. In this way, we draw
all the stakeholders together in the classroom with our full time
students during the lectures, an approach that we have found greatly
enriches our courses but also keeps the course material and discussions
very pertinent to current happenings in the community. We also use
adjunct professors who have international reputations. To further enrich
the program, we invite guest speakers from industry, solicit industrial
case studies and design projects for our students, and have course
projects in which students can explore the latest advances in fire
safety as related to a particular facet of the industry or as related to
current research in a particular area.
Notarianni: There are multiple ways that
WPI remains connected to the FPE community. Among these are: our
project-based curriculum, the industrial board of advisors, the graduate
internship program, presence of faculty at major fire protection
engineering technical meetings, and research for and with industry
groups and code organizations. We also offer corporate and professional
education, where our professional students work in all aspects of the
FPE community and regularly engage both with their employers, our
faculty and our on-campus and other graduate students. Since WPI's
on-line students are in the same courses with our on-campus students and
taught by our full-time faculty, this is a continuous and highly
valuable connection with the community.
Mowrer: The FPE program at Cal Poly stays
connected with the FPE community by participating in local, regional
and national meetings. The FPE program at Cal Poly considers this
connection to be vital to its relevance to the FPE community. The
program is working with SFPE chapters, particularly in the western
states of the US, to develop recruitment and mentoring programs that
rely on participation by SFPE chapter members. The FPE program at Cal
Poly is in the process of establishing a student chapter of the SFPE.
Fleischmann: The University of Canterbury
has an industry advisory committee that meets annually to discuss our
program. The committee is made up of representatives from consulting
engineers, regulators, fire service, NZSFPE and the NZ Fire Protection
Merci: All students in the International Master of Science in
Fire Safety Engineering program receive a free SFPE membership during
the studies. The teaching staff in the different partner universities
are actively involved in the fire protection engineering community.
Hadjisophocleous: Carleton University
organized short courses for fire protection practitioners, which attract
people from various areas of fire protection. These courses provide
excellent opportunity for our students to exchange ideas with the fire
protection community. We also invite practitioners to make presentations
to our students on specific topics.
Torero: The University of Edinburgh,
participates in multidisciplinary conferences, consulting, and
interaction with industrial partners. We also conduct industry funded
research, students participate in internships, and we have guest
lectures from practicing engineers.
Milke: The University of Maryland has
semi-annual meetings of a curriculum advisory committee comprised of
employers and alumni that provides input on course content and
requirements. Our faculty are involved in professional committees and
Jönsson: Lund does company visits, guest teachers and
speakers, evening recruitment programs, and attends SFPE Swedish chapter
Chow: Hong Kong Polytechnic University holds joint activities with professional bodies.