There is an old saying in academia that industry has problems looking for solutions, while academia has solutions looking for problems. This saying has merit in the fire protection engineering profession, where many problems are being addressed and much research and testing is being performed without academic input. Having been in academia for most of my career, I am not so naïve to think that academia has all the solutions, but I firmly believe that academia should be part of the solution for many problems. I also think students should be engaged in the process to enhance their professional development.
Think about the wealth of data that is acquired during fire research programs and even during routine fire testing. Add to that the mounds of field data acquired from actual fires and fire protection system performance every day. Most of this data goes unanalyzed for lack of resources and vehicles to analyze the data.
This is where students could be engaged through relatively small research projects that provide them with useful real-world experience, while helping the SFPE Foundation fulfill its research and educational missions. To this end, I would like to see the SFPE Foundation serve as the conduit between industry and academia, with industry providing the financial resources, projects and data for students to work on, academia providing the students and student supervision, and the SFPE Foundation serving as the liaison and facilitator between them.
I make this proposal because I believe that education is the foundation for every profession, so the profession should do everything it can to support the education of its future members. By providing this type of support for higher education in fire protection engineering, the SFPE Foundation will help to foster development of the next and future generations of fire safety professionals throughout the world.
I have shared this proposal with other members of the Foundation’s Board of Governors and received positive feedback for this concept. I would also like to share with you that the SFPE Board of Directors has authorized the development of a new strategic plan for the Foundation and this proposal will be considered as part of the strategic plan development during 2017. We will keep you posted as the new strategic plan solidifies. If you have any questions or comments concerning the SFPE Foundation and these plans, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Throughout its history, the SFPE Foundation has been involved in several projects that serve both the heritage and legacy of the profession. If you have not browsed the SFPE Foundation’s website lately, please do so. There you will find heritage research documents that have been made available through the Foundation by a number of research organizations as well as the awards and scholarships supported by the SFPE Foundation.
These historical activities, as well as any new initiatives, are only possible through the support of SFPE members, SFPE chapters and corporate sponsors. I ask all SFPE members and chapters, as well as corporate sponsors, to renew your support for the SFPE Foundation. To make a tax deductible contribution to the SFPE Foundation, please send your donation to the attention of the Clerk of the SFPE Foundation, 9711 Washingtonian Blvd, Suite 380, Gaithersburg, MD 20878 or donate online.
Frederick Mowrer, Ph.D., P.E., FSFPE
2018 SFPE Foundation Chair