Each student in IMFSE has the ability to choose the topic and the university at which he/she is going to do the thesis during the fourth semester. This year, the University of Maryland has joined the programme as an associated partner and it was possible for the first time to have a semester in the USA.
Two of us have chosen UMD as a place for the thesis. The fire protection department in the University of Maryland has a number of famous professors in the fire field and their groups perform a high-level researches in different parts of fire science.
So we started the work in January each on his study. The department assigns a desk for each master or PhD student. People in the department are friendly and helpful whenever we have questions.
As we do not have courses in this semester, the routine of going every day to the grad-students area dominated the activities during the semester. However, the different steps in the study were distinguished by a number of deadlines including preparation, having results, writing the thesis and, finally, presenting it in front of the committee.
The biggest challenge was to finish writing and submitting the work by the end of April as it is the most effort-demanding activity. After that, the preparation for the presentation and practicing it dominated the wok in May.
As officially enrolled in Gent University, it was essential to have people from there during the presentation, besides people from UMD obviously. The session was set up online, but the time difference enforced us to have it early in the morning in the US.
After this long semester, it is the time to have a short break before starting the preparation for the graduation day in September.