Social Influence

Edinburgh is a city filled with year-round festivals and celebrations that attract many people from all around the UK and the World. The biggest yet is Hogmanay – the Scottish way of celebrating the New Year. It is a three-day celebration that starts on 30th of December with Torchlight Procession and ends on 1st of January with The Loony Dook. Although I had not heard of Hogmanay before coming to Edinburgh, I am very glad that I was part of this Torchlight Procession during my stay in this beautiful city.

When Dan, Joni, and I first got our torches at the entrance, Dan and I immediately started guessing how much Heat Release Rate the torch would have and how fast would it burn. But then, after seeing thousands of people jammed on South Bridge, we started reluctantly thinking about people’s behaviour with a meter long lighted torches. According to BBC news, this year there were 20 000 participants and 20 000 spectators in the procession (1). Luckily, we witnessed no fire-related accidents during the procession.

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This semester in Lund, we are taking Human Behaviour in Fire class, where we learned about different theories related to human behaviour during a fire. One of the theories made me think about this procession. Although there was no emergency during the event, people’s behaviour, I think, is still relatable to the theory of Social Influence. According to the theory suggested by M. Deutsch and H.B. Gerard, normative social behaviour is characterized as people not wanting to stand out and making fool of themselves, hence behaving in accordance with what is expected from them (2). During the procession, torchbearers were walking cautiously and at the same pace. Nobody wanted to walk faster, bypass each other, or cause discomfort to others. Although there were some that stopped during the walk to get that “Picture perfect” photo of themselves walking with a torchlight, by which they caused disturbance to others. I must confess, I also wanted to stop and get a good photo of mine taken during the procession. However, following a classical case of normative social influence, I wanted to avoid glares and judgment of people, so I chose not to do so (although I have some good photos before and after).

Overall, being part of this procession was a memorable experience. Many thanks to Dan and Joni for quality time.

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  1. Brown, Angie. Edinburgh torchlight procession creates giant Scotland map. BBC News. [Online] BBC, December 31, 2018. [Cited: February 27, 2019.]
  2. Nilsson, Daniel. Exit choice in fire emergencies – Influencing choice of exit with flashing lights. Lund : Lund University , 2009.

A portion of the Holyrood Park is on fire!

Sharing you the latest news as it happens!

It was a good day in Edinburgh with a sunny spring-like weather. I was doing my thesis, studying Abaqus subroutine when my flatmate entered the living room and told me about the news. The area where Arthur’s Seat is located is on fire!

UPDATE: Fire at 10:45 PM. Firefighters tried to extinguish it from the top and the foot of the Salisbury Crags.
Bushfire in Holyrood Park!

Arthur’s Seat is an iconic landmark of Edinburgh! I live just in the foot of Arthur’s Seat and I can see it from the window of my flat in Pollock Halls. My flatmate told me that last year, it also happened because someone had BBQ and left the flame there!

Anyway, firefighters are already within the vicinity of the area. Although, as of the moment, the fire looks a bit smaller than earlier, it keeps spreading. It is this irresponsibility of the few that sacrifices the safety of lives, property and the environment! Let’s hope that the fire will be controlled soon to minimize damage.

The aftermath viewed from Pollock Halls.
When we hiked to Arthur’s Seat.
IMFSE students in Arthur’s Seat.

Elective courses in Ghent

For the 3rd semester in Ghent we were given a choice of elective subjects we want to study. 2 courses from the list should be chosen, but the list may vary from year to year. Prior choosing, we were mostly relying on our own understanding of what the subject will be about, because no description is given. In this blog, some overview of the electives available for the 3rd semester in Ghent is presented. It may be helpful for some future students to make a decision on the courses they want to follow 🙂


In the last blog post I have already described one of my electives – FSE based Fire Fighting. I can add that along with practical course, there were 5 lectures, one of which was a guest lecture on the Industrial fires. All the lectures were informative and totally not boring. The basics of the firefighting were discussed and as a part of the course, the fire fighting related paper should be done. The course finishes with a practical training and a closed book exam on the theory.

My second elective course was Introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics. It covers such topics as numerical methods,  flow equations and modeling of turbulence. It is an intensive course which consists of 4 hours lectures and 3-4 hours of lab works every day within 1 week. The aim of this course is to make a project of the flow of an incompressible fluid in Ansys Workbench. Even though this subject is not directly related to the fire safety, the project load, requiring a lot of efforts, helps to understand the fluid flow. 

For this blog I also asked some of my peers to describe the elective courses they took. Kristi had a class in Entrepreneurship this semester. She agreed to share some thoughts:


“Introduction to Entrepreneurship is an elective course which was held once in two weeks. The course is mainly theoretical compose by lectures which shows the steps on how to create your own venture and be creative in this competitive world and how to succeed. A very interesting and the lecture I enjoyed the most was the ‘Business Game’ where the class is divided in groups of 3 ppl and each group has a role as: entrepreneur, business angel or an investor. All the groups will be provided with a business plan which has lots of conceptual problems and economical estimations. Depending of the position and role that the groups have will try to evaluate and develop further the plan and in the next lecture session there is the negotiation day where entrepreneurs will try to gain capital by proposing their innovative plan to investitors and business angles. About the exam well was not that interesting, I guess like all the exams in general :)”

Bogdan had a course in Modeling of Turbulence and Combustion, and he also shares his positive experience:

14502848_1238575169496275_183210761677825226_n-1Modeling of Turbulence and Combustion is a 3 credits elective course that cannot be missed on third semester at Ghent University. It is structured on twelve lecture slides, with the first nine lessons on turbulence and the last four focused entirely on combustion. Although it may look difficult at the beginning, the way professor Bart Merci teaches this subject will make you forget about all the tough formulas and boost your interest towards the scientific background of the fire modeling. His interactive lectures with questions and answers from both sides will determine you to ask “why is this semester so short?”. Most of the slides are based on the description of the phenomenology of turbulence and combustion and a set of practical applications depicted from the real world. As it is purely theoretical course, it aims that all engineering students will understand the underlying mechanism of the numerical simulations of turbulent flows, with or without chemical reaction. There is an end-of-term evaluation during the examination period which starts with questions from a scientific journal that has to be previously read by the students and continues with detailed specific questions on turbulent combustion from the course content. It is an oral, open book examination with questions delivered on a paper and allows a 40 minutes preparation period before the final response.

The list of the courses may vary from year to year, and I asked our alumni, Kunsulu, to tell us about the course on Explosion and Industrial safety which was not available in my year:

By taking Explosion and Industrial safety course, we got an insight into the physcial processes that occur during explosion. Thus, the concepts such as deflagration and detonation, pressure and shock waves became familiar to us. During the class, by analyzing the past industrial accidents, we were introduced to the technical and organization measures to decrease the risk of fire and explosion. I think this course is complementary for education and training of fire safety engineers.

Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences! I hope this post will help some students with the decision on the elective courses in Ghent. 

And for now, good luck with the thesis writing, guys! I miss you all!


Video Interview: Life in IMFSE

Continuing the tradition of interviews in IMFSE, I decided to do an interview with the 2nd year students, Balsa and Jamie, about their opinions and experiences in IMFSE. Since they have experienced all 3 different universities provided, I asked them to compare the experience in each country and their overall opinions about IMFSE.

For my fellow 1st year students who haven’t decided yet where to go for their 3rd semester, I hope this video could be a little help to you. And for those who are now applying for IMFSE, I hope this could give you a brief description of life and education in IMFSE and I wish you good luck for the application!

P.S. Special thanks to Dr. Ricky Carvel for his fire-themed song playlist. There are so many interesting songs related to fire in his playlist and unfortunately I can only pick 2 for this video. Cheers!

Fire Fighting training

Exactly one month has passed since our last exam. Now it’s time to recall one of the memorable moments of the last semester – our fire fighting practice lesson. As a part of the elective course of FSE based Fire fighting, we had a practical training in PBO East Flanders Fire department (Brandweerschool).

Our professor Karel Lambert is an acting fireman, and as a concluding part of his course on Fire Fighting, he takes students to the real fire fighting training.

When we reached the place, after detailed instructions we were given a real firefighting equipment. The heaviest part was wearing air cylinders. However, we were cooperating very well in helping each other to get ready. We looked so alike in these outfits, so we were permanently asking: “Hey, who are you?”/ “Hey, are you Silvia? Oh, sorry, it’s you, Ayyappa”.


When we finally coped with the task of wearing full firefighting outfit, we were divided in two groups. Each group accompanied by a professor goes to the container, where some wooden cribs are set on fire. While the fire went through all the stages, we were sitting in the container, analyzing and experiencing all the processes happening there (e.g flashover). After getting out of the container everyone was very excited!

First of all, we were full of emotions after completing this training! It’s not an everyday thing to be part of fire fighting process! So huge thanks for fire department, our professor and IMFSE program for this challenging and fascinating experience! We feel really lucky for having an opportunity to have FSE based firefighting as our elective course.

Now the new (the last!) semester is on. And these remarkable moments will always have a special place in our memories!

P.S. After posting my picture on Social media, one of my friends sent me this meme with the “disaster girl”. Well, sometimes a “disaster girl” has to become a “disaster fighting girl” 🙂




Mad Fire Scientists

Semester 4 of the IMFSE just started. Since we do not have any other courses apart from our master’s thesis, I decided to reminisce the fun that we had during the third semester. This will be a series of blogs about how I enjoyed the courses during the third semester in Edinburgh. I will try my best not to be a spoiler to future students 😀.

Inarguably, my favourite subject is the Fire Science Laboratory. I did not expect that I will like it a lot because the primary reason why I chose Edinburgh for my third semester is because of the courses related to structural engineering. In this course, we were able to do experiments and identify problems on our own. We did bomb and cone calorimeter tests, closed and open cup tests, pool fire test, flame spread test, and spontaneous ignition test. I really felt like a scientist doing researches on my own, navigating through references in order to substantiate what I observed. We wrote several lab reports to be submitted fortnightly on Fridays. I would say that those nights were fulfilling, albeit challenging. Every single time, the adrenaline rush of the Fantastic Four was put to test. Honestly, I have never written my lab reports before in the same way that I did for this course. Our professor, Grunde, indeed pushed us to do better.

Some fiery experiments. Fuego!

I had fun especially that we receive really helpful feedbacks about our lab reports. I think that those will be of good use for our theses because it served as our training for technical writing. Of course, we tried not to completely remove play from work so we did bets about the outcome of the experiments and the two losers pay for the coffee of the two winners.

Mad fire scientists in action!

But in a serious manner, as fire engineers, we need to understand fire science in its basic and purest form. Only then will we be able to explain certain phenomena and apply principles correctly for practical purposes. Everyone can interpret and use fire science formulas and values based on a passage in a book or a journal article but only those who performed experiments can attest to their validity.

Winter break

After a very short and intense semester, my fellow classmates and I wanted to kick off our official winter break right after our final deadline at 4pm on 21st of December, which we did. We kicked off by throwing a Secret Santa party at Dan’s place. Dan and Joni kindly offered to host this party, Joni made an amazing vegetarian marinara sauce, and Karim and I helped her out by cooking different types of meat to meet everyone’s dietary restrictions.

As you might have noticed, since it was the Secret Santa party, everyone came prepared with their gifts and kept their recipients in secret. Overall it was a great party where we finally got relaxed, talked about something other than classes, and laughed. Since the conditions of the gift exchange were to find a funny gift under 10 GBP, I must say the gifts were funny and imaginative. You can see the photos below:

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Then everyone went separate ways to spend their winter break. I myself stayed in Edinburgh up until New Years. I visited all touristy places, had traditional turkey dinner at Dan and Joni’s place on Christmas, went to Hogmanay Torchlight Procession with them (which I will post later), and spent quality time with friends on New Year’s Eve after which left for Berlin to have a mini European trip.

P.S: sorry for making this post late, I just needed an excuse to share the photos from the event. Photo credit: Dan and Joni.