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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 😉.
Next up was the proclamation of best students where Melchior, Khai and Kunsulu deservedly received their prizes.
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.
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 😊.
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!
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!
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!
All the professional photos were taken by Nic Vermeulen, and we owe him big thanks for a great job!