The day we became IMFSE alumni

On Friday last week we had a full-day graduation ceremony from the morning till the late night. We started the registration at 9.30 am, but the actual programme started at 10 am.

The first speech was from the coordinator, then each representative of the partner universities gave a short explanation about the university he represents. Following, we started our presentations to talk about the work done during the thesis.

At 12 pm we had a lunch break in which we met again after a year of splitting. During the break, each group of two to three students were interviewed about the experience we had during the master and about our future plans.

After that, we continued the presentations till 3 pm, then we had the poster session in which we presented our work in a printed version. Next, we had the proclamation when we were granted the degree before having some speeches by a professor, alumni students, and student representatives. We ended the indoor activities by having some pictures in the garden.

Afterward, we went in three different tours to have the dinner. My tour (A`petit) consisted of an explanation for archaeological sites in the city. We had three stops in three different restaurants, in the first one we had two appetizers and drinks while in the second one we had the main course. Then we gathered all in a third place where we had the desserts. After all, some of us left because of travelling plans while others continued the night till the early hours of the morning. We enjoyed the day a lot as it could be the last official meeting of all of us together.

I would like to thank all IMFSE members for everything they did during the two years. Also, I thank all my colleagues for the time we spent together and for the friendship we built and I hope we reunion again in the future.

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Sami

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The advantages of being an Erasmus student

Studying in this master programme is not only beneficial academically, but it also has a lot of other advantages that most students fell happy having them.

Studying in different universities during the master is typical in all Erasmus programmes, for us all the three partner universities has ranks in the top hundred universities globally. Having the ability of being a student in different universities is a big advantage of the programme because it gives the knowledge through different education systems.

Other related advantage is travelling. Moving in each semester from a country to another could be annoying, yet it is a great opportunity to see different places while studying. During holidays we also go to other countries over Europe which is also a big joy.

Students of Erasmus programmes are from all over the world. In our cohort there are 18 nationalities. This diversity gives the advantage of interacting with different cultures which expands minds and enhances the ideas. Also an international network of friends is something special for every one of us.

Further, scholarships are available for a number of students when applying for Erasmus programmes. A special procedure is followed to choose the eligible students including interviews from coordinators. In addition, some scholarships are provided through industrial sponsors of the programme because of the excellent reputation of it.

I recommend master seekers students to apply for this programme and other Erasmus masters because it is a priceless opportunity which will change your life.

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Ending two years of a scholarship

Two years left since I travelled for the first time to Europe to start studying a master degree. My first destination was the United Kingdom, specifically Edinburgh where I chose to spend the first semester of this master programme; The International Master of Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE).

IMFSE is a joint study programme between three partner universities: The University of Edinburgh (UK), Gent University (Belgium), and Lund University(Sweden). Three other associated partner universities from Europe (Switzerland) and from outside of Europe (Australia and USA) are also involved in this programme.

This joint degree lies under the broad education programme in the European Commission which is called ERASMUS+. This programme contains many key actions. Under key action 1 there are the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees (EMJMD) in which there is IMFSE. The EMJMDs provide scholarships for people from EU and from outside EU.

IMFSE gives the opportunity for students from all over the world to apply for it as Erasmus Mundus scholarship candidates or as self-sponsored candidates. Also, there are scholarships from industrial partners (sponsors) in Europe. In addition, IMFSE gives the opportunity for all students to choose the place they like to study in for the first, the third and the fourth semesters. The second semester is obligatory in Lund. In the first year I chose Edinburgh, then I moved to Lund and in the second year I chose Gent then Maryland in the USA.

Everything has an end, and for our 2014 cohort it is about to come into the end, this month was the last month of a 24-months of Erasmus mobility. The only left activity is the graduation ceremony that we have on the 9th of September. Come join us in this all-day activity which is the last official meeting between us https://congres.ugent.be/IMFSE2016/.

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The course of Risk Assessment

In the second semester in Lund University, we have four courses. One of these courses is called risk assessment. This course is one of the most important courses during the master programme, because most of us do not have a previous knowledge of it, also it connects fire safety with engineering management and planning.

The course contains many learning aspects, from seminars to exercises, individual reports, a group projects and a presentation. The exercises are simple problems we have to solve for each chapter of the course and it reflects the types of problems we have in the final written exam.

Each seminar and its individual report are for the same topic; we have two seminars and two reports. The topic is specified by a number of scientific articles we have to read and discuss in the seminar, then each of us writes his/her report by summarizing the reports we have read already. The reports perform a part of the final mark of the course.

The group project is the most important activity in the course because it applies all the aspects we learn during the semester. The project we have to do is the same for all groups; a chemical facility that contains some hazardous materials with a number of potential accidents that might happen in the facility which could threaten the whole area. Our purpose is to specify the level of acceptable risk in the area. After submitting the project, we have to present our work in front of all groups and the lecturers.

I consider this course as one of the most valuable courses because it reflects new approaches in engineering evaluation which is very important for fire safety engineers.

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The preparation for graduation

As a part of the programme we all have to present our work during the thesis in the graduation ceremony which takes place in September each year. This year we have the graduation day on Friday 9th of September.

All students who finished successfully their thesis are preparing their presentations for the day and also working on a poster they have to present. Students who are not able to attend the ceremony in person will send a video for themselves presenting the thesis and will be available on Skype for the poster.

The graduation day starts at 9.30 in the morning and lasts till 11 in the night. It is not only an academic event, but it also consists of many activities like lunch, a tour, and dinner.

In the morning we have opening speeches, then each student has 10 minutes to present his work to the audience. After lunch, we continue the presentations then we move to the poster session when each student shows his thesis results on a poster.

After the presentations and the poster session, we are all officially graduated so we have the proclamation followed by some speeches by a professor, an alumni member, and by student representatives. After all, we take some memorial pictures then we start the tour in the city to finish the day with a dinner.

The event is not only for IMFSE students. All family members, friends, and interested people can attend this day by registering through the link available on IMFSE website. The registration can be done for the full day or for half of it only.

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The struggle of finding a job

When we started the master, each of us has his/her own reason to study but one of the common goals we had at that time was finding a good job. Personally, I started thinking of a master degree to expand my knowledge and to enhance my chances in finding a job in the competitive work market.

The process of finding the dream job starts in the first year of study. Having a good academic record is one important factor, but a relevant experience is always recommended because it is what employers usually seek for. To gain this experience most of students search for summer internships at different companies. The internships are usually short, yet they give a good idea about the topic.

In the second year of studying the process is more complicated. The majority of us started to look for a job early in the first semester of the year in order to secure the job before it is too late. Some companies, especially big ones, open their applications really early as most of the students will apply and the process takes a long time. In other companies, the applications appear later. Because of that, it is important to follow as we do not know what is available at a certain time.

There are many websites where the majority of companies post their vacancies. Still, extra efforts are needed to find other available vacancies. We help each other in finding jobs as we point out vacancies for people who are still looking.

This master programme has a very good reputation. All students in previous years found their jobs early. Also, the majority of us have found jobs, but few are still looking. I am sure they are in the way to find very soon.

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IMFSE courses at a glance

During the two years of studying at the different universities we had three semesters of courses studied at the partner universities; Edinburgh, Gent, and Lund, and a fourth semester which is dedicated for the thesis, and can be spent at a chosen partner or associated partner university.

In the first semester in Edinburgh we had courses in fire dynamics, finite element method, engineering project management, and structural design. The most important course is fire dynamics in which we learned about different calculation methods for a variety of fire types. In the other courses we got the important knowledge for fire engineers.

All students in the second semester go to Lund University where we have courses in advanced fire dynamics, human behaviour in fire, risk assessment, and simulation of fires. All these courses are important for fire engineers. I found this semester very interesting especially human behaviour course which gave us a new knowledge and in the same time it is very useful in designing.

The third semester in Gent was very helpful for us, in this semester we got six courses which are: active fire protection 1 and 2, passive fire protection, fire safety legislation, explosions safety, and performance-based design. All the courses are important for fire engineering and each of which gives the basic knowledge for designing and calculating.

In general, all the courses in this master programme give the state-of-the-art knowledge in this field and I am quite confident, after finishing these courses, that all IMFSE students are able to work on any fire safety concept. This is a big advantage for future work and gives a good reputation for the programme.

A picture of all of us at Lund University.

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