IMFSE Graduation Ceremony – 2018

As endless the IMFSE program seemed during some tough exam periods, as short it seemed when we realized that the graduation day has come. We’ve all been working hard for the previous four semesters, and building ourselves as humans and as professionals, towards this special day – the day when we officially became fire safety engineers.

Each one of us spent with other classmates at least one semester together, and some lucky ones even managed to cruise through the whole 2-year experience staying at same universities for the whole time. Still, there is one thing we haven’t been able to do so far, and this moment was just a perfect occasion for such a thing – gather IMFSE professors, IMFSE staff, sponsor representatives, IMFSE students with their friends and families, and a couple of IMFSE alumni, all at one place and at the same time.

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The ceremony can officially start

Meeting point was Ghent university’s culture and convention centre – Het Pand, one of the prettiest buildings in this already spectacular city. The day started with registration and coffee, and it was very nice seeing everyone so well dressed and looking so happy and beautiful. After a quick chit chat, the ceremony could officially start.

IMFSE program director, our professor Bart Merci, started the ceremony with a short introduction speech. The speech could not pass without professor mentioning his favourite football player, Lionel Messi, who at a time was underachieving at the World Cup, but a hope still existed that Argentinian superstar could eventually wake up and show everyone who is the best?! 🤔

Next was Ghent University rector, Professor Rik Van de Walle. After giving a very inspiring speech, Professor Van de Walle could not resist but emphasizing his disagreement with professor Merci, pointing out Ronaldo as the world’s player #1.

CLASH OF THE TITANS

Luckily the clash between the two professors ended up in a tie, as it seems that my neighbouring country, Croatia’s Luka Modrić, showed everyone that when talking about sports talents, there is no one comparable to people from Balkans 😉.

After a short and funny football mentions, which served well to relaxing the slightly tensed students, it was time for us, IMFSE grads to take over the stage with our short Master Thesis presentations. Although less than two years ago all of us faced fire safety engineering for the first time, being all confused and somewhat afraid of the whole new scientific branch, it was very impressive seeing all of my classmates now confidently presenting their great works on various interesting topics. From multiscale modelling of fire in CERN tunnels, over evacuation modelling in deep metro stations, to fire spread between photovoltaic arrays, you name it!

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When 13 students graduate, and collage can fit only 12, then one must be special enough to get an individual picture published! It was not hard selecting the best student of our cohort and my CERN fellow Melchior for this special treat 🙂

After the stage presentations, it was time for lunch break, but also for another very important aspect of academic presenting – the poster session. The whole process of writing the IMFSE Master thesis, defending it and publicly presenting, both on stage and on the poster discussion, were a great overview of how a process of writing a scientific paper looks like – from conducting the literature review, to finally presenting the work done. It was certainly a great way for us students to realize if we enjoy it sufficiently and would gladly opt for a PhD, or we would rather continue our careers in industry.

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Alumni and Perović family enjoying the poster session

Another solemn moment awaited right after the poster session – a short video interview with us, talking about our IMFSE experiences. We are all looking forward to seeing this piece of art full of wise words and fancy outfits.

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Movie stars, who still opted for fire safety engineering over Hollywood  🔥

The lunch break was over, and the most official moment of the day has arrived – the proclamation. And although on similar ceremonies official speeches can sometimes be too formal and tiring, I really felt that all the people giving speeches that day found a right measure keeping them long enough to deliver the point and short enough to keep the audience focused and amused 😊. Professor Gert de Cooman guided us through the proclamation explaining us how it should be done, and why is this traditional way of graduating still in place – emphasizing the responsibility we are taking after receiving our degrees. Professor Merci congratulated and handed us our transcripts of records – making our graduation official. Shortly after nominees for the best poster received their prizes – Ming Chen winning in jury decision, and Julia winning the hearts of the audience 😉.

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A very special moment!
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Poster winners!

Next up was the proclamation of best students where Melchior, Khai and Kunsulu deservedly received their prizes.

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ARUP director Rav Dhanjal handing in the best student prizes! Congrats

The nominations were followed up by very encouraging speeches by our professors Jose Torero, Grunde Jomaas and Enrico Ronchi. Thinking about all the professors involved in IMFSE made me realize that we, IMFSE students, were quite lucky for having been taught by such world-renowned experts and above all great people.

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Enrico Ronchi, Jose Torero and Grunde Jomaas giving very motivational speeches!

The official ceremony was wrapped up by short talks by IMFSE alumni, and in the end by our student representatives giving a nice overview of these two years, concluding with two funny videos 😊.

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Alumni Matthias Van de veire and Karel Lambert and our student representatives closing off the ceremony 🙂

As we still had our gowns and hats on, and we were at such a beautiful place as Het Pand, what else could we do but a nice photo session!

ABLOG POST
The most special moment of the day 🎓
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Professors from Ghent, Lund, Edinburgh, Queensland and Maryland! Thanks for travelling the long way and for making this day even more special!
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Friends, family and smiles 🎓
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Brazilian and Serbian crews!

After a lot of nice pics, it was finally time for the less formal part of the day! The afternoon and evening were dedicated to a very interesting sightseeing tour of Ghent with several yummy culinary stops. A great way for our families to get to know a city where we used to live and study, and for us to freshen and build up our knowledge about this fairy tale city.

For thoughtfully organizing such a remarkable day till the smallest details, but also for helping us out whenever needed for the last two years, and for keeping IMFSE running and being as good as it is, we all owe a massive thanks to our two dearest girls – Elise and Lies!

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Our dear Lies and Elise in their formal and informal modes 🙂

As this long day was coming to an end deep in the night, it was time to say goodbye. Saying bye to your friends flying back to Malaysia, Colombia, El Salvador and other distant places was a very emotional moment. Still, the friendships that we made through our IMFSE studies, and international aspect of studying IMFSE made us true global citizens, and I am sure that our paths will cross many more times in future on numerous places!

P.S.

All the professional photos were taken by Nic Vermeulen, and we owe him big thanks for a great job!

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DBI visit

Weeks passed after we went to Copenhagen to visit The Danish Institute of Fire and Security Technology (DBI). It was  a fantastic and informative trip which closed the sequence of IMFSE visits to Swedish Fire Protection facilities (Södra Älvsborg’s Rescue Service Federation and MSB College Revinge)

DBI is Denmark’s leading knowledge centre in the field of fire safety and security. Our day there started with a talk by the former IMFSE student Karlis Livkiss. He presented us the company and introduced us to current DBI employees who gave us lectures about DBI. During the lectures we were informed that DBI does not offer any fire related products, but offers various services that help people to deal with fire safety regulations.

Typical customers are architects, engineers and entrepreneurs who come with various inquiries to the DBI office. For example, one of the DBI services is product development center – the company may offer fire simulations, tools for simulations, certifications and expert opinion about the product. For the clients who need advice for the constructions DBI offers service of third party view and tools for self-assessment for further independent use. The facility management options (inspection, optimization, trainings) are also presented in DBI.

We were very pleased to know that DBI has a lot of projects with Lund University and has options for the internship and future career for Fire Safety Engineers. After the lectures set we had a lab visit where a lot of facilities such as test facility for roof, marine relevant equipment, cone calorimeter were shown to us.

That was a remarkable day which commemorated the end of the first year studying period and led us directly to exams.  The half of the summer has already passed and I cannot wait to start the new semester and reunite with the IMFSE family!

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IMFSE Tenses: Past, Present & Future

TENSES. A term used by my varsity team to describe the convergence of past, present and future generations. As we reach a crossroads of our IMFSE adventure this summer, this convergence becomes apparent as our seniors transit from present students to the alumni, our juniors who form the future of IMFSE prepare themselves to join the IMFSE present family and us, class of 2017? Well,…. we are and will still be part of the present as we try to soak as much as of the IMFSE experience for the remaining year as best as we can before we too follow the footsteps of those before us…

2 weeks ago, our seniors gathered in Gent for their graduation ceremony. As much as I would love to, I could not be there 😦 but thankfully, we had live updates from our reporters on site, Gerard and Kristi. I’m sure you will here more about the event from them but for me, this graduation ceremony although not ours, marks a significant milestone in our journey with IMFSE. It’s an indication that as much as this journey had been awesome so far, it too shall end and now we have a responsibility to live up to the legacy that our seniors left behind.

They have been great role models and helped us through whenever we had doubts with: be it assignments, thesis selection, settling down in a new country (which includes where to open bank account, which is the best accommodation…) or even tips on our the best places to eat/visit/chill. Even though I wished I was able to spend more time with them, they have always been welcoming towards us and it was always a blast to be around them. From being impressed with their theses work (though Juan made us walk through a corridor over and over again like lab rats, his Kinect programme to help in evacuation research is truly amazing!!!) to giving me the guts to glide high in the Scotland skies (thanks Arjan!), they embodied the whole IMFSE experience be it in the academic field or just enjoying the experience as it comes. As seniors, they also formed a comforting family especially when I was stressed up with exams by reaching out to encourage me even if they are miles away. As we say goodbye to an amazing batch of graduates, we wish them all the best for their future endeavours and sincerely thank them for a memorable year.

So what now? Honestly, we feel like we are in a limbo and about 2 months from now we too shall be seniors to a new batch of IMFSE students and we hope to live up to the standards of those before us. This summer break also gave us a taste of how it would be when we graduate and leave our separate ways since most of us are scattered all around the world right now. Some of us are back at home (which is literally all across the globe) or starting out our internships. After a year together, it feels surreal to be away from friends who have become like family to me during the year abroad. Thankfully, with the advent of technology, we could still have group chats together online to catch up (though no more UNO games sadly). However, reality remains that our semester of convergence in Lund is over and our batch will be splitting again. As half of our journey is over and another half begins, we start to appreciate each other and also the experience as a whole more. One year left, guys! May we have a fruitful yet memorable year ahead!

To the new batch of students, are you feeling nervous? Clueless about what is going to happen? Well, this was us a year back…

Excited but apprehensive, just like how you would probably be starting out. However, if you think we have got everything sorted out… not really. Everyday, a new adventure awaits! All we can say is that WE SURVIVED somehow by sticking by each other and enjoyed every moment of it and we hope you do too. So relax and look forward to a brand new adventure with us here in IMFSE!!!