Third semester schedule!

This past week the second years students that will study in Ghent for the third semester got their schedule. During our first semester we were divided equally: 7 in Ghent and 7 in Edinburgh. This time some people who did their first semester in Ghent decided to stay for the third as well, so there will be 5 students in Edinburgh and 9 in Ghent.

The schedule is quite busy, compared to the ones in Lund and Edinburgh. The courses of this semester are Explosions and Industrial Fire Safety, Fire Safety and Legislation, Passive Fire Protection, Active Fire Protection I and II, and Performance-based Design.

In Ghent we will have some courses with the local Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering students. This happened in Edinburgh and Lund as well, so although we are a small class, when it comes to lectures the lecture hall is crowded anyways, and you can get to know other students too.

All of the lectures of the third semester will take place in the main building of the university, which is quite central and easy to access by bike, bus or tram.

Everybody bikes in Ghent, it’s an easy and cheap way to get anywhere in the city. It is possible to rent bikes from the university for a very reasonable price, so that they are affordable for everyone. Here is a picture of one of the bike types that students can rent.


Ending two years of a scholarship

Two years left since I travelled for the first time to Europe to start studying a master degree. My first destination was the United Kingdom, specifically Edinburgh where I chose to spend the first semester of this master programme; The International Master of Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE).

IMFSE is a joint study programme between three partner universities: The University of Edinburgh (UK), Gent University (Belgium), and Lund University(Sweden). Three other associated partner universities from Europe (Switzerland) and from outside of Europe (Australia and USA) are also involved in this programme.

This joint degree lies under the broad education programme in the European Commission which is called ERASMUS+. This programme contains many key actions. Under key action 1 there are the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees (EMJMD) in which there is IMFSE. The EMJMDs provide scholarships for people from EU and from outside EU.

IMFSE gives the opportunity for students from all over the world to apply for it as Erasmus Mundus scholarship candidates or as self-sponsored candidates. Also, there are scholarships from industrial partners (sponsors) in Europe. In addition, IMFSE gives the opportunity for all students to choose the place they like to study in for the first, the third and the fourth semesters. The second semester is obligatory in Lund. In the first year I chose Edinburgh, then I moved to Lund and in the second year I chose Gent then Maryland in the USA.

Everything has an end, and for our 2014 cohort it is about to come into the end, this month was the last month of a 24-months of Erasmus mobility. The only left activity is the graduation ceremony that we have on the 9th of September. Come join us in this all-day activity which is the last official meeting between us



Last days in Brussels

The summer is almost over. Even if it has been an unusual summer to me, I had great experience thanks to the internship. This will be my last week at Promat, then I will need to get ready for Edinburgh.
In this last period, Max came to visit me here in Brussels. After all the trips and cities that he visited here in Europe, he decided to rest for a while. It has been nice to spend time with him, listening to all his trips and showing me all his pictures. Even if he is trying to make me become Asian, feeding me with noodles every few days.
Meanwhile, we (second year students) are getting to know the new students, who will be in Edinburgh with us. Hardly anyone succeeded in finding accommodation, it is being really hard for us. This is the reason why everyone planned to go to the UK few weeks before the start of the semester. Hopefully none of us will be homeless. In the worst case, someone will host us.
Fortunately, before heading to Edinburgh I will have enough free time to go back home. It will be really nice to meet all my family and friends and enjoying nice weather for a short time. I will need it, because I am going to a city where the sun hardly ever shows up.

One more month until Ghent semester

In about one month I will be moving to Ghent again for my third semester. I know the city quite well, since I have spent almost every summer there visiting family. I also did my internship there this summer for six weeks.

I am excited to live there for four months, since it is a beautiful city with lots to do and see. Also, being in Belgium gives you a great opportunity to travel, since it is situated so close to many other countries. I grew up in Sardinia, which is an island located in the Mediterranean Sea, so if I wanted to travel it was always quite expensive because I would have to take a plane. In Belgium I could just take a train and be in another country in one or two hours.

Of course, since the first semester of the year is a short one (only 12 weeks) travelling will not be possible all the time, but I’m sure that all of us can find a weekend or two to travel a bit.

The past year I’ve always lived in student accommodation, but in Ghent I decided to find a private one. It’s definitely calmer, and it’s nice to finally have a proper living room and bathroom!

I’m quite excited to move back to Ghent, but I’m also glad I still get to enjoy my vacation for one more month!


The course of Risk Assessment

In the second semester in Lund University, we have four courses. One of these courses is called risk assessment. This course is one of the most important courses during the master programme, because most of us do not have a previous knowledge of it, also it connects fire safety with engineering management and planning.

The course contains many learning aspects, from seminars to exercises, individual reports, a group projects and a presentation. The exercises are simple problems we have to solve for each chapter of the course and it reflects the types of problems we have in the final written exam.

Each seminar and its individual report are for the same topic; we have two seminars and two reports. The topic is specified by a number of scientific articles we have to read and discuss in the seminar, then each of us writes his/her report by summarizing the reports we have read already. The reports perform a part of the final mark of the course.

The group project is the most important activity in the course because it applies all the aspects we learn during the semester. The project we have to do is the same for all groups; a chemical facility that contains some hazardous materials with a number of potential accidents that might happen in the facility which could threaten the whole area. Our purpose is to specify the level of acceptable risk in the area. After submitting the project, we have to present our work in front of all groups and the lecturers.

I consider this course as one of the most valuable courses because it reflects new approaches in engineering evaluation which is very important for fire safety engineers.



Back in Promat

As all the nice period, my holiday came to an end. After all the nice moment that I had with my family and my friends, I came back to Brussels. Because I need to finish my internship, three weeks left.
I left Italy and it was 35 degrees Celsius. But here in Brussels the weather is not the same, it has been raining all the week. And being honest, it affected me a lot. It looks like the summer is already over. Fortunately the forecast indicated that it would be a warmer weather in the next weeks.
The internship continued as usual, and the first goals have already been reached. These remaining weeks will be really fast, because a lot of work has to be done and probably some classmates will come to visit me in Brussels. Surely, it will be nice to meet them again and talk about our summer.
At the same time, my classmate and “internship colleague” Andres is still enjoying his summer. He is traveling throughout Europe until the end of the month.
Edinburgh is getting close and all of us are looking forward to starting a new semester. First at all, all of us want to meet the new IMFSE students and try to help them the same way as the past student did with us.

Wildfires in Sardinia

Every summer here in Sardinia, where I live, there are wildfires. This is one of the reasons why I decided to study Fire Safety Engineering; I wanted to know more about fire dynamics and fire spread.

This summer was no exception. Many wildfires have already burned so many hectares of Mediterranean scrub, and even today one destroyed a big area close to the beach and touristic facilities on the southern-east coast of the island. Many people have been evacuated from homes and hotels, as the fire keeps spreading also because of the strong wind.

The main cause of these wildfires is arson, which is a willful burning. As we have seen in the course Human Behavior in Fire in Lund, the motives for arson can be several, but in this case the most likely could be revenge, profit and wanting to be seen as a hero.

To extinguish these fires the fire brigade is helped by many volunteers, who are trained to  handle these situations. Even in the small village I live in there is one of these volunteer associations. Also, helicopters and Canadairs are utilized, which collect water from the Mediterranean Sea.

Here are some pictures from today’s fire.


The preparation for graduation

As a part of the programme we all have to present our work during the thesis in the graduation ceremony which takes place in September each year. This year we have the graduation day on Friday 9th of September.

All students who finished successfully their thesis are preparing their presentations for the day and also working on a poster they have to present. Students who are not able to attend the ceremony in person will send a video for themselves presenting the thesis and will be available on Skype for the poster.

The graduation day starts at 9.30 in the morning and lasts till 11 in the night. It is not only an academic event, but it also consists of many activities like lunch, a tour, and dinner.

In the morning we have opening speeches, then each student has 10 minutes to present his work to the audience. After lunch, we continue the presentations then we move to the poster session when each student shows his thesis results on a poster.

After the presentations and the poster session, we are all officially graduated so we have the proclamation followed by some speeches by a professor, an alumni member, and by student representatives. After all, we take some memorial pictures then we start the tour in the city to finish the day with a dinner.

The event is not only for IMFSE students. All family members, friends, and interested people can attend this day by registering through the link available on IMFSE website. The registration can be done for the full day or for half of it only.



Last week of holiday

 It has been almost three weeks that I am on holiday. I spent the whole holiday at home, enjoying the sunny days and time with my family.
From the 8th of August on, I will be in Brussels again for the internship. The last three weeks of my internship are left. Meanwhile I am getting ready to start the third semester in Edinburgh. Looking for accommodation in Edinburgh is not easy at all, because there is no possibility to rent university accommodation and it’s also easy to get scammed via internet. For this reason, I am moving to Edinburgh at the end of August.
During the last weekend, even if Max and his mum had issues with the documents, they managed to come to visit me in Naples. Unfortunately we have not been able to spend a lot of time together, because I am leaving on the 6th of August. I did my best to be a good guide and to show them all the nice places of my land. I took them to Naples, where we ate REAL pizza. We went to one of the oldest pizzeria’s of the city. They loved it!
We all had a really nice time together. One day he will be my guide in China (hopefully).
Here is a picture of my city.