This time, I am interviewing my Serbian friend, and a fellow IMFSE alumnus, Vladimir Parezanović, who was a part of cohort 2012-2014. With several years of experience in fire safety engineering already behind him, he was a perfect person for discussing his thoughts on IMFSE, career, industry etc.
Me: Can you tell me a bit about your background and when did you hear about IMFSE for the first time?
Vladimir: My background is in Civil / Structural Engineering and I practiced it for several years before opting to make a career change. I stumbled upon the IMFSE programme while browsing through the Erasmus Mundus master programmes from pure curiosity.
Me: How did you feel about the programme before enrolling, and how do you feel now being an alumnus? Did it meet your expectations?
Vladimir: It is very hard to say whether it met expectations as I cannot claim that I had an extensive understanding of what Fire Safety Engineering is in its entirety and how it can be widely applied in industry. I would rather say I had an idea, a limited idea, about few fields of application. But the spark that Prof Jose Torero initiated during the application interview was a tipping point for me to go ahead.
Only now when I became an alumnus I realised how great foundation for further development the programme offers. I would not exaggerate saying I am really honoured to hold an IMFSE degree in Fire Safety, and moreover to be thought by the exceptional lecturers.
Me: When you remember IMFSE, what thoughts come to your mind the first? Some course, professor, university, lab, fellow friend, trip or maybe a party?
Vladimir: Hard choice… It is rather few.
Riding a bike on snow and -15°C, barbecues on 10°C, falling off the bike after the first encounter with Belgian beers, Edinburgh skies (i.e. rare blue ones), Karla’s confessions on childhood experiences with fire, showing IMFSE colleagues my city, fantastic lectures by Daniel and Rita, the messy all-nighter in Copenhagen, cruising deserted Ghent old city on a bike in the night, and the email Patrick should have never seen 🙂
Me: How important is it that IMFSE is such an internationalized programme? Are you still in touch with your fellow friends?
Vladimir: I believe that IMFSE alumni (while probably not being entirely aware) are collecting one exceptional bank of knowledge. They are researchers or practice FSE in consultancies, they reside in 20+ counties where they can apply state of art Fire Safety Engineering, and they have an opportunity to further learn from leading lecturers/engineers in the field.
And they are still fairly well connected through the alumni Google group where they can discuss any issues or seek for an advice. That is absolutely fantastic! Personally, I am in contact with few of my colleagues on a more frequent basis, while with others through a passive contact such as Facebook, etc.
Me: What do you do now, and how useful was having IMFSE degree for finding a job and consequently working? Did it provide enough relevant education?
Vladimir: I practice Fire Safety Engineering in Australia at the moment. I was told during my application interview something like “Finding a job can be problematic only from a geographical perspective – in some regions FSE is less and in some more developed; but finding a job in regions where FSE is practiced on a very high level is a piece of cake” and that is absolutely true. As I worked only on the Australian market I can confirm that technically we are exceptionally well prepared for the industry.
The last part of the question I answered under 2. I would also add that besides the technical foundation that programme offers, it also highly nurtures critical thinking – a very important aspect in this relatively new area of engineering.
Me: Can you make small comparison between studies at universities of Gent, Lund and Edinburgh? What about living in those cities, what are main advantages of each?
Vladimir: Ghent – demanding with assignments schedule through the semester and rather short period for exam preparation; on the other hand, a lot can be learnt and the exams weren’t too difficult though.
Lund – all perfectly organised and scheduled. Proper exams with very fair marking (with relatively unfair conversion to the programme marking system 🙂 ).
Edinburgh – a bit too DIY teaching approach which can be somewhat distressing when one kicks off as a newbie in the Fire Safety world, but in contrast it stimulates research skills. Exams of a reasonable complexity, however time-wise very stressful.
Me: How did you find moving to different country each semester? Was it too dynamic and maybe even a bit hard, or you just enjoyed it?
Vladimir: Absolutely enjoyed it! But it becomes a bit too much after 2 years and it is perfect time to settle down a bit J I did not find it particularly difficult.
Me: Where is IMFSE in comparison to professional fire safety globally? Does it keep up with industry?
Vladimir: I dare to say it is much ahead of the industry.
Me: If you had to choose one thing you learnt during your IMFSE master studies, that you are the proudest of, what would it be?
Vladimir: How candle works.
Me: What is your message for the future IMFSE students?
Vladimir: You are about to embark on a beautiful journey!