Interview – Bart Merci

Continuing the chain of interviews we are doing with the IMFSE lecturers and alumni. A couple of days ago, I met with Bart Merci for a quick interview. As Bart is the coordinator of the IMFSE program, I decided to make the core of the interview about the IMFSE program history and the main challenges he (as the coordinator) faced in the last few years.


Me: Could you please introduce yourself and give an overview of your academic background?

Bart: I am Bart Merci the coordinator of the IMFSE program. My background is in mechanical engineering, I took my degree here at Ghent university in 1997. I did my Ph.D. also here at Ghent university in the topic of modeling of Turbulent flames. So mainly my background is in CFD simulations and from there I grew into the fire safety science and the link here will be flames, where you can find flames also in flaming fires. My background in CFD modeling is still now my field of expertise in the field of fire safety science.

Me: So, how did the IMFSE started and who had the idea of the IMFSE program? Could you give a brief introduction to the history of the program?

Bart: Actually, the seeds of the IMFSE were sown a little bit earlier when the post graduate program started here at Ghent university and that was triggered by industry. So Industry here in Belgium and in Flanders were feeling the need for more freedom. They were looking to have more innovative solutions for complex buildings. Then I picked up the idea and talked to my colleagues in Edinburgh and Lund, to see if they were interested in joining forces and applying to support the idea. They were interested in doing so, and the rest is history, so the first time we applied we immediately were accepted. That was quite a bit achievement because the success rate for getting approved as a program was below 10 %. That means Europe really believed in the quality we were going to offer. But you could say it is industry driven and then we elaborated on this from an academic point of view.

Me: What were the main challenges to getting things starting?

Bart: The challenges have been enormous I would say. The academics were easy to convince, we all feel that fire safety engineering is important in society, also when you look at things in terms of sustainability that is not something that most people will link to fire safety. However, there is a clear link, so as academics we were the ones that were easy to convince. But, also we have our institutes and so it has been quite a challenge to make sure that the institutes completely trust the other institutes in issuing a joint degree. As you already know, it is possible that someone doesn’t spend a semester at Ghent university but still, the rector of Ghent university will sign the degree of IMFSE and vice versa for the other universities. So it was quite a challenge to do that, and also, every institute has its own style of teaching and of doing exams and it is a bit of give and take to find some common grounds to proceed. So yes, there has been quite a number of practical challenges and things that needed to be sorted out before we even started applying to the European commission for funding. So once we got that approved, it was not too challenging to get starting because we had our structure of teaching, I also managed to hire an administration officer using the European funding so that made life a bit easier but still you do not want to see how many day to day issues we still face in working together in an international environment.

Me: What would be the situation after Brexit as for example Edinburgh is part of the UK and it is one of the main partners, would that have any effect?

Bart: That’s a very good question and also kind of a political question, again, in terms of the academics there are no issues. We are still the same colleagues as we were before and we are still teaching the same material as we did before but of course at the level of the European funding, this at the moment not very well known. In the sense as I understand it, so far everything stays as it is, because the actual Brexit still ongoing. So for the time being nothing changes and at some point we will also have to continue without the support of Europe.

In that sense, it is very important to also now get funding from industry so that we have many companies who see the value and the benefits of supporting the IMFSE. At that point, we have some basis to continue and I think it is important to be able to offer scholarships as it is attractive to the top students. For example when you are looking for a program or scanning the internet and you found an interesting program where you will have the chance to be granted a scholarship, it looks good on your CV. So the scholarship is something that is quite attractive for talented people. We are also fortunate that we have many students that are joining us on the self-sponsor basis and that gives us the income to manage the program and means that we are sufficiently interesting for people to come to Europe to study.


Me: What are you doing to spread the word about the IMFSE program?

Bart: It is a difficult one to answer, it is clear in the begin that we have to get started so it was on the Erasmus Mundus website and we have our own website. So some people found it by searching on google. Then we tried to improve visibility by making a short movie that you should have seen by now on YouTube, we also now have a google advert campaign and the most important one we are now on the website of the IAFSS and SFPE so people find us on that way. But never the less, it proves to be a continues challenge to remain visible, as you know on the internet there are so many interesting things so that we could also use some help from our alumni and students to give us some idea on how to improve visibly and how to spread the word.

Me: So, who are you looking for to join the program? Are you looking for more fresh graduate students or those with some industrial experience? 

Bart: The answer is obvious we are looking for the top people, that is the key thing. We have had a number of extremely talented young students who had the advantage of being relatively blank page that needs to be written and they are into the rhythm of studying and dealing with complex mathematics and physics but they do not have yet any experience in the field of fire safety engineering. Then we also have had people that are more experienced and some even in the second half of their professional career, with the advantage of having an over view of what could be done in practice and also having some experience of what they will have as a framework for fire safety engineering approach but then such person could struggle with mathematics and the physics.

Also, sometimes experience can be misleading, as what we are trying to teach in the IMFSE is something new and is having basis of broad prospective, we also are trying to train you to be critical towards yourselves but also towards others and think outside the box, not just applying standards or questioning it. So that is what we are trying to stimulate. Also interaction among the students is some times perhaps more valuable than just the knowledge transfer. So that’s what we are trying to do and that is also why we are not limited to young students or professional ones. So everybody is welcome to join.

Me: What do you think will be the main changes in the program in the coming few years? like a new university joining or something?

Bart: what we see, I think we can say that we have a very solid consort, also in terms of academic research activities in the filed of fire safety science we have really top institutes at the level of the institutes themselves but also at the level of fire safety in particular. What i am expecting is, in the first few years this consort could solidate even further, also what i mean probably we could have more involvement from associated partners which is now limited to the master thesis, I would not be surprised if that could be opened up to also doing some courses, this is something that is not in place today but could happen in the future.

Me: Even if these partner universities are not in Europe, they can still offer course work?

Bart: It is important to distinguish between lets say the European funding that we have and the management of the program. Because we are allowed to have courses from institutes out side of Europe so that’s not a standing block.

Me: I would ask the question in another way, because as I know being an Erasmus Mundus program you are only allowed to put the name of European universities on the diploma and other universities outside Europe are not being granting the diploma. So having some course work in such institutes is opposing the fact of being an Erasmus Mundus program.

Bart: Exactly, that is not a thing we can do today, but it is something we can do in the future as you were asking me about the future. So that is something that I would definitely be willing to explore and see how that could be strengthened even more. I dont want to strive at the moment to expand the consortium, I think that the partners that we have are all very motivated to having the program. I am sure other institutes could be qualified and also motivated to join the program but also it needs to be manageable so that is something to take into account.

Me: Can you talk a bit about the fire safety days that you organize? what is the main idea behind these events? 

Bart: These fire safety days serve multiple goals, one direct trigger is the establishment of the sponsorship consortium that we have and which brings the industrial commitment much close to the program than before. So these fire safety days serves the purpose of the chance to have a meet and greet day between the IMFSE students and the companies. Companies are interested because you are top of the world in the field of fire safety engineering, you are supposed also to be interested as after finishing the studies you are supposed to be looking for a job, so that is one thing. But it also goes beyond that, it is a great networking event even for us academics with our colleagues in the industry. We always try to define a theme around which many stakeholders are working, we as researchers, our industry  colleagues and then people from society. Because may be they want to build some infrastructure that needs to be designed in a resilient way or because sustainability is becoming more and more important in the built environment. So what we are trying to do there is having this from networking and to have like a direct contact between the companies and the students. So far, the feedbacks that we got about these days are extremely positive from all stakeholders and that is something that we definitely want to keep doing on annual basis. I can already say that the next one will be in Belgium.


Me: Would you expect an increase in the number of scholarships in the coming few years?

Bart: It is hard to say, we will apply again for the European funding to get extension for the program. It is impossible to predict whether or not we will be granted this renew. One thing that I am proud of and that’s again a joint effort of everyone is that we have received a very high score when we were visited by someone from the European commission to monitor our program. We were visited in Lund during the latest fire safety engineering day and the person was really impressed by the quality and also by the feedback that he received from the students who were there. So that’s looking good but you never know what is going to happen in the future.

Me: That brings us to the end of the interview, if you want to add anything more please go ahead.

Bart: Well, may be one thing I would like to add because you asked about the challenges to get the program starting, there has been many but it is really important that all these challenges are worth it because we as academics are working with top people and here I refer to the students. So you are really very talented young persons that are hopefully going to design the future of our society and our planet. I think that looking now you are building a network of alumni and the vast majority of alumni remains in the field of the fire safety science, which is a good thing by itself, but also they are growing very rapidly into successful and important positions. So already now, even-though we are less than ten years in business, we are seeing the impact. I mean that in practice but very specific example is also going to be in the academic route, in the research route, where we have the IAFSS symposium coming up and there will be tens of IMFSE students and alumni present there so this shows that we are doing something that actually worth it. So it worth all the headaches and the challenges. I also want to add that in the end the starting up of the IMFSE program was a huge effort and it could never have been done if not all the institutes were as motivated to do that. It would have been mission impossible if either of us had simply tried to go with the flow, everybody really pushed and pulled at the beginning and now that the train is running, it is a bit easier you could say than to get things started.

So that’s all, hope you enjoyed the interview and if you are interested in reading more interviews please go to the following links:

  1. Interview – Patrick van Hees
  2. Interview – Vladimir Parezanović
  3. Interview – Ivana Paunović & Bojan Coti


School trip to RISE and Guttasjön fire academy

Last Friday was reserved for another school trip. This time we were going a few hours north to visit the fire Academy of Södra Älvsborg county, and RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) fire research institute.

When you study IMFSE at Lund university, doing a school trip is quite easy. Professors announce your visit to a certain company, school covers car rental and other travel expenses, and you just have to show up at the right place on the agreed time. Although it sounds super simple, this time it turned out not to be like that. Relying 100% on Google Maps lead us to an hour-long tour of dirt roads, hitting a ‘’military zone’’ barrier and ending up on an unfinished road. Finally, after an unplanned exploration of Swedish countryside, we managed to get to Guttasjön fire station, where our hosts were patiently waiting for us.


First, Mr Krister Palmkvist, fire officer with decades of experience gave us a lecture on firefighting. Full of good examples and videos, but what made it special is that we were able to see live famous and one of the most powerful firefighting tools – Cobra! The forceful rifle-like water extinguisher is used for penetrating through walls (brick, concrete, steel etc.) and therefore making a way for water to get to the burning compartment, in situations when opening a door/window is not possible or is not a good idea due to the potential risky ventilation conditions and a possible flashover or any other reasons.


After the lecture, we were lucky to witness a real fire training, where firefighters were learning how to use Cobra, aka ‘’firefighters Kalashnikov’’, and it was impressive. Unfortunately, Cobra is a really expensive tool, and thus not yet available in most of the countries around the world, but hopefully it will become affordable in the near future since it gives an incredible advantage to firefighters.

Our next stop was RISE, where we were welcomed by our professor from Lund University, Mr Haukur Ingason. Formerly called SP, after merging with Innventia and Swedish ICT, named RISE has one of the biggest Fire research institutes in Europe. First part was reserved for short lectures by professor Haukur Ingason and his colleague Ying Zhen Li where we heard a bit about what RISE is involved in and about their areas of expertise. Next thing was the actual tour of all the labs. We started at the lab for small scale testing, being equipped with the famous ‘’cone calorimeter’’, that is used for collecting data for most of the FDS (fire dynamics simulator) input, and with many other experimental instruments.


Already the middle-sized room was impressive enough since enclosure fire tests are performed in it. But the largest room definitely left us speechless. It is so huge and so well equipped that they can do bus or truck fire tests in it without a problem. Another astonishing thing was the massive filter chimney connected to the main room, that no matter how huge and sooty the fire is, lets through only water vapors.


As the trip was almost over we decided to spend the rest of the day in the nearby city of Gothenburg. Unlike the first time when we visited it, when we could barely see anything because of the dense fog, this time the weather was just perfect! Strolling down the city, seeing thousands of people sunbathing next to the channels and along the parks, and feeling a really positive vibe of Gothenburg made me realize why some Swedes actually consider it as the coolest city of Sweden!


Another great school trip was given a final touch by a beautiful 9:30 pm sunset above the city!


Interview – Ivana Paunović & Bojan Coti

Me: Can you tell me a bit about your background and where did you hear about IMFSE for the first time?

Ivana: I have finished structural engineering in my home town Belgrade, Serbia. I have heard about the programme from Erasmus Mundus web site.

Bojan: I am 26, finished architecture in Serbia in 2013, and started to work in Germany in 2015 as a fire safety engineer. In my last year of Bachelor studies, I discovered IMFSE by browsing the Internet.

Me: How did you feel about the programme before enrolling, and how do you feel now being an alumnus? Did it meet your expectations?

Ivana: I was interested in doing my master’s abroad. Even though I was admitted to a few programmes, I found fire engineering the most interesting topic and I was quite sure that it was something I would like to do in the future. This programme did meet my expectations. Many topics are covered and it helps us to become well-rounded engineers.

Bojan: Of course, I was excited once I got admitted to the programme, and had big expectations as well. I would say that the programme brought more than I expected.


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?

Ivana: First thing I remember would be good moments I have spent with my colleagues (and friends :))

Bojan: The high level of knowledge I got, and the amazing people I met from all around the world.

Me: How important is it that IMFSE is such an internationalized programme? Are you still in touch with your fellow friends?

Ivana: I am still in touch with people, with some more, with others less. We also have a Whatsapp group with all the people from my year where we share news. Internationality is really important for both personal and professional growth. We are meeting new cultures, new ways of thinking, living and working.

Bojan: It is quite important because IMFSE is not just about studying fire safety engineering, but much more. It is an opportunity to see how other people think, work and what kind of ideas they have. I am still in touch with some of my fellow friends, and it is a great feeling to have them in different parts of the globe.

boki coti

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?

Ivana: I just started a job, I am working in Beca, New Zealand. It was very useful to have this diploma, people who are working in fire engineering are quite familiar with IMFSE. I believe that all relevant topics are covered in the programme.

Bojan: I produce fire safety concepts, approve concepts of others and do on-site visits, as well as fire simulations.  It certainly helped me in finding a job, because the IMFSE is recognized, and it is up-to-date. The programme prepared me for the job that I do, but also for the things that are new in fire safety engineering, and things that are yet to come.

Me: Can you make a small comparison between studies at universities of Gent, Lund, and Edinburgh (and Zurich – Bojan)? What about living in those cities, what are main advantages of each?

Ivana: All 3 universities have different a tempo of studies. I would say that the tempo of studies was the fastest in Gent. Regarding the life, I enjoyed Gent the best. The city is mainly populated with students, it is quite international and has a variety of good pubs.

Bojan: University in Gent gives strong foundation required to move further in the programme.

University in Lund has the most organized way of learning, with a lot of practical work included.

ETH Zurich has great possibilities to conduct experiments with materials in a fire.

Gent is probably the most beautiful city I studied in and has a great position which allows traveling around Europe. Lund offers a lot of student activities and is basically a student town. Zurich has a great position for traveling in this part of Europe as well, and it has a rich cultural life.

Me: How did you find moving to a different country each semester? Was it too dynamic and maybe even a bit hard, or you just enjoyed it?

Ivana: I personally liked changing the environment. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and travel around that specific area. It wasn’t easy, but I would say there are more benefits than drawbacks.

Bojan: I learned to be highly mobile and to pack all my life in a suitcase. Of course, it was not always easy to move every semester, but it brought a lot of excitement as well. Sometimes, I miss that.


Me: Where is IMFSE in comparison to professional fire safety globally? Does it keep up with industry?

Ivana: I think that people in fire safety community have heard about IMFSE, and that it is positioned quite high on the international rank.

Bojan: I would say that the IMFSE prepares you well for the different approaches in fire safety engineering. For example, fire safety in Germany is still more prescribed, but it is moving towards performance based design approach. With the education I obtained, I was able to jump-start in the field since it prepared me for the both approaches.

Me: If you had to choose one thing you learned during your IMFSE master studies, that you are the proudest of, what would it be?

Ivana: I am happy I learned Dutch since I thought at the beginning od course that it will be mission impossible 😀

Bojan: If somebody would ask me to go to live and work at another place on the earth tomorrow, I would only ask – where to?

Me: What is your message for the future IMFSE students?

Ivana: Travel as much as possible, stay in contact even after the end of the programme, have fun while getting a good degree 🙂

Bojan: Use the chance to get a proper education in fire safety engineering, have fun and learn from other students as much as possible, about them and their culture.



“Will you stand up in the court and defence your fire model?”

“Will you stand up in the court and defence your fire model?”,- was the question asked by Professor Rubini at the lectures on Simulation of Fires in Enclosures back in January. I did not know much about modelling of fires before taking this course, but now I know that it can be a very powerful tool if used with caution. Fire modelling can be used analyze a range of concepts including ignition, flames, plume, smoke and etc. for the purposes of life safety, structural behaviour, investigations, risk and many more. But complex nature of the fire phenomenon and inadequacy of computer power set limitations to the fire modelling, that is why it is important to know both capabilities and shortcomings of the modelling tools.


Fire scenario (credits to the Lecture slides by Dr.Philip Rubini)

Currently, there are a number of CFD software (not Confusion For Dummies), and we were introduced to the Fire Dynamics Simulator or simply FDS, which is commonly used for fire applications. It is free, so everyone can access it, and potentially become an expert in using it. But, to ensure that results are credible it is important to verify and validate computational simulations, as well as check the sensitivity of the model to the parameters. Also, we were introduced to the famous Philip’s Rules which state “No grid, no solution”, “If you haven’t filled your computer you are not trying hard enough”, “Garbage in-garbage out”, and “A report of a CFD simulation without discussion of error is of little value”. I think these rules can be very useful and should be kept in mind before building the model.


CFD user (credits to the Lecture slides by Dr.Philip Rubini)

To conclude, by taking this course, we got an insight into the fire modelling world. In the future, we might be able to improve the simulations by using more powerful computers, but as for now, we need to be fully aware of the current limitations.


FDS simulation of the Steckler room fire experiment.

One day under the sun

Coming from a tropical country to live 6 months in Sweden, can be difficult to handle, especially if you have never had a previous contact with low temperatures and snow. The second semester of the IMFSE program In Lund, Sweden started like this for me and a few more of my classmates.

This year, we were lucky enough to experience one wonder of nature just the second day after arriving: a snowstorm. If you have read my blog about it, you know how excited we were and what is my position regarding snow (yes, I still believe is amazing). Many people say this winter wasn’t “so bad” and that we didn’t got a lot of snow (agreed, I would have loved to be surrounded by it more often) however, coming from a tropical country and disregarding I love snow, I can tell you… I miss the sun.

Last Sunday, all of us went to Valborg, that is basically how Swedish people celebrate the arrival of spring, if you are curious about it you can read a little bit more here. This is an event that starts early morning (around 9 A.M) and it ends approximately around 8 P.M with an impressive bonfire. What you basically do is hang out with your friends lying on the grass while having a good time under the sun. This was the first time in 5 months that we had been able to walk around the park without sweaters and coats and it was only 14 degrees.


After Valborg, the days have been perfect. We get temperatures varying from 10 to 18 degrees and we couldn’t be more grateful about it. My funny theory is that this good weather started because in Valborg they lit a huge bonfire and they scared away the winter.


The weather is starting to get nicer and nicer, in such a way that this Sunday we went to the closest soccer field and had a little tournament. Almost all the guys were there and we all had fun even though we did not win the tournament. We also had a fika (that is basically dessert and coffee time) and lots of sun.

The end of the semester is approaching, and once again the group will be separated into “the Gent guys” and the “Endinburgh guys” but first we need to pass our courses and think about being with our families for summer. Definitely, the semester in Lund is out of this world and we will always remember this moment of our lives.



The road to IMFSE Masters

Having an older brother and a lot of friends is a great thing for many reasons. You can learn from their experiences and mistakes, you can ask them for advice and help in any situation, but also you can somehow put yourself in their skin and envision your future if you took their steps. That’s how, as soon as I have enrolled in my bachelor studies, I knew I will conduct my master studies abroad. I had no idea where it would be, or even in which field, but I knew it would eventually happen.

As soon as I recognized that I want to undertake that move one day, I decided to start working on various skills necessary for enrolling in international universities, but also for living abroad and becoming a successful global citizen.


Different volunteering activities, practicing sports, mastering my English and French, attending diverse seminars, conferences and extracurricular courses were just some of the things on this path.

I remember that, one summer day after my first year of bachelor studies, my family friend Vladimir Parezanović was visiting my family and he had some great news. He was telling us how he was accepted to an amazing master programme called IMFSE. At that point, I had no idea what fire safety actually was, but from the first moment I was impressed while listening about the structure of the program. Changing 4 countries during 4 semesters, and studying at 4 great universities, but at the same time meeting cultures and people from around the globe seemed like a programme tailored just for me 😊. Also, since physics has always been my favorite subject, finding out how related fire safety engineering and physics actually are made me attracted by the programme so much more.


So, the autumn has come, and Vladimir’s adventure had started, and through time, listening to his experiences, I was becoming more and more sure that I would like to enroll in that programme.  By the time Vladimir has graduated, I was already certain that I would apply for IMFSE. The fact that he had a lot of job opportunities in several countries immediately after graduation made me my decision even easier.

So, the time for my masters applications has finally come. There I was with a list of universities and programmes I was interested in, and among the top of the list was also IMFSE. Since being accepted to IMFSE and other top programmes is quite tough, and obtaining a scholarship even harder, I knew I had to put in effort. Writing motivation letters, putting my CV in order, getting recommendation letters, translating the curriculum and other documentation to English and sorting out other bureaucratic things was time consuming, but my resolve to keep improving myself in a global setting was strong, so there was never a lack of motivation.


Positive replies from other universities started arriving in February, but still no news from IMFSE. And then, on the 10th of March last year, I was informed that I was among the 48 best applicants for the programme and that we are entering the second round – interview with one of the board directors. I was so happy, but also I knew that the hardest part was yet to come. I immediately started analyzing the whole IMFSE website, reading through the description of all the courses, also talking to Vladimir about his interview experiences, and searching interview examples on the web. As the D-day was approaching, I felt more and more confident. I knew that I didn’t prepare myself for so long for nothing. Although I was a bit nervous, the interview went smoothly, and as soon as it was finished I had a really good feeling about it. After a couple of weeks, when all the other candidates had been interviewed, I got an email informing me that I was nominated for the full scholarship. It was one of the happiest moments in my life. After spending years hearing about the programme, and daydreaming about studying it one day, there I was, finally, preparing for embarking on a new adventure in my life.


And here I am, somewhere at the half of it, and I can only say that I am more than loving it so far. Without a doubt this is by far the most interesting and most dynamic period of my life, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Neither was I the student with the highest GPA, neither was I the most talented engineer in my generation. I was only a good student, but a good student with a clear plan and an enormous motivation for pursuing a dream. And it seems that passion and focus can make the dreams come true!

Thesis Submitted!


Last weekend was the deadline for the thesis submission for the IMFSE program and by that; our class is finishing the last chapter of the IMFSE adventure. There is no doubt that the last couple of weeks have been quite stressful for most of us and everyone was rushing to finish his/her thesis before the deadline. Yet, it feels so good the moment you press the submission button and even feels better when wake up the next day knowing you are done with your thesis work and you should just care about how you are going to chill today.

Hold on! It is not finished yet, this month we still have to do our dissertation (our master thesis’s defense) those who did their thesis under the umbrella of the university of Edinburgh will start first; Pasquale, Pascale, Veronica and Ain will probably present their thesis during the first half of May.  For those who are doing their thesis for Ghent University, they will have their dissertation on the same day on the 22nd of May at Ghent University; Andres, Philippe, Nikhil and I will be presenting our thesis in person at the Plateau building while Max and Nemer will join us virtually via Skype from the US. and Australia respectively to present their thesis work and do their defense.  Also, the students at Lund University (David, Francisco, Jan, and Rohan) will present their thesis later this month in Sweden.

Comic from:(www.PHDCOMICS.Com)

After the thesis defense, most of us are going to participate in organizing the Fire safety Olympics (as Bart call it 🙂 ) which will take place in Lund between the 12th to 16th June. The International Symposium on Fire Safety Science which is organized by the International Association for Fire Safety Science (IAFSS) is (at least in my opinion) the most important fire safety event, where almost all the fire safety scientists around the globe gather together to discuss the latest scientific and industrial issues related to fire safety. Our class was lucky enough to have the symposium this year not only in Europe but also at Lund University so we had a unique opportunity to attend the event easily.

In later blogs, I will talk about the history of the International Symposium on Fire Safety Science and will discuss what will be our role as IMFSE students to organize the event in Lund. Till then, I highly recommend checking the official website for the symposium to get more information here