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.




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