A simple equilibrium equation!

The marathon is still going on and I am learning new interesting information like flame propagation, flame temperatures, flame heights and with some given information I can even determine and calculate them. What is really important, is the fact that I can relate the theoretical studies with their practical and real-life application. I will try to teach you one of the basic equations we use (the explanation is in my very own practical and totally unscientifically way :D). Everybody has heard or read about stoichiometry and equilibrium equations, well these equations are applied as well in everyday life. I will show you now what I mean.

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This is the basic equation of a student life, it is important to find the equilibrium, you agree? (you should because otherwise…). I will let you know soon how my equilibrium equations will go (the scientific one and the practical one :P).

Last week everybody was in Ghent (first and second-year students from Edinburgh) for the FSE day, I guess we were lucky meeting before our study trip in Lund (I am happy I got my Swedish resident permit after my first rejection in August). FSE stands for Fire Safety Engineering day, which is the application of science and engineering principles to protect people, property, and their environments from the harmful effects of fire and smoke, focusing on fire suppression, human behavior and maintaining a tenable environment for evacuation from a fire. Meeting people from the fire safety community which are involved in big projects and they are part of big companies worldwide like ARUP, Promat, WSP, Tucrail, FPC, Kingspan. During the coffee break, we had the opportunity to chat with the representatives of this companies and network (already thinking for a possible internship :D). It was a special FSE day this year due to the 10th birthday of the IMFSE program.

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                                                                                                                              the picture was taken by Elise

After the FSE day we went for the FSE night at Amadeus, for all of you who don’t know Amadeus, it is a famous place here in Ghent and you can eat delicious ribs (you can eat as much as you can, it’s a food competition, I manage to eat only one :/, next time I need to be prepared haha). After Amadeus we had some delicious beers.

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the picture was taken with Eduardo’s cellphone 😉

 

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Fire Safety Engineering Industrial Engagement Evening

There are plenty of benefits from studying a program such as IMFSE, but one of them is certainly quite important for all the students – having regular and well-tailored contact with industry throughout the studies. It’s being done in various ways – organizing special fire safety events, conferences, talks, guest lectures, visits to companies and institutes etc.

It is known that one of the most common questions being asked to students around the world is: “How employable will you be after obtaining your degree?”. After seeing how IMFSE alumni are doing, and what chances are being brought to us, current students, I realized that all of us can happily answer to the employability question with just one word – Great!

One of the anticipated events during our 2-year program is certainly Fire Safety Engineering Industrial Engagement Evening organized at the University of Edinburgh each autumn.

It was a chance to get in touch with the real-world industry and academia, meet in person professionals from some of the most renowned companies and potentially find an internship, a full-time job or even a PhD.

The event started by professor Luke Bisby’s introduction speech presenting the timetable and explaining the details of the event.

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Representatives from 6 companies were present in the room ready to meet all the interested students, tell them about what companies have been involved in and answer any possible questions. To name them, we had the honor with engineers from BRE, Arup, Olsson Fire and Risk, Trenton Fire, BB7 and Design Fire Consultants. Apart from those six, we also had the opportunity of talking to guys from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and hearing their side of the fire story.  It was really nice meeting all those inspiring people, learning about how our knowledge can be implemented in solving real problems, and basically already envisioning ourselves in near (or far) future. Listening to experiences from the people working in big companies, or in very tiny ones, or from the people that switched from a big to a small company or vice versa, was really helpful and gave us a good idea of all the advantages/disadvantages of each option. It was quite exhilarating finding out about great variety of options and paths waiting for our careers, and again the good employability thesis was proved!

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Khai – Arup Singapore representative meeting his Arup Glasgow colleague

Another really good thing about the whole event was that it was organized in an informal way, with food, wine and beer provided, which certainly allowed all of us to be more relaxed and enjoy it even more.

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Friendly vibes

After the first block of the evening was over, it was time for University of Edinburgh Fire department PhD students to present their works. As some of us are quite interested in continuing academic careers after masters and pursuing PhDs, this was an excellent opportunity to get deeper insight into our elder colleague’s fire researches. As the University of Edinburgh is highly ranked in both structural and fire engineering, there is a lot research done in Structural & Fire Safety Engineering, which is definitely an extremely important topic and a big field of interest for many IMFSE students.

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Timber is the future

After some time spent with the industry representatives, it was also nice chatting to the PhDs and hearing their stories and getting some wise advices.

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PhDs Simon Santamaria and Benjamin Ralph presenting their interesting researches

As expected, the event ended up being very beneficial for everyone involved. A day of valuable networking, brainstorming and many new ideas and plans created!

 

When the Universe ConsFIREs Part 1: Why I Applied for the IMFSE

In an era of quickly advancing knowledge, millennials are becoming fully aware of the importance of advancing one’s education and technical skills. More professionals are taking up postgraduate degrees which show that we value learning as a tool in improving our lives and making an impact in our chosen professions. However, the cost of education is also on the rise – proportional to the demand.

I am one of those who believes that learning never stops and more discoveries lead to more uncertainties. When I was in my undergraduate years, it has always been my dream to pursue higher education preferably abroad because of the different quality of education and the experience to interact and live with culturally diverse individuals. But, I cannot personally finance studying abroad because it is obviously expensive. I know that I can only fulfill this dream through scholarships. Name the biggest and the grandest scholarship grants and I am familiar with their application processes if not well-versed.

I came to know the Erasmus Mundus through one of my friends back in the university who was accepted as a full scholar. I was so amazed by the one-of-a-kind opportunity to study and travel at the same time. From then on, I tailored my work experience to suit the programs that I would like to apply for. The truth is I already know the IMFSE three years ago. Being in the realm of the built environment which I was so fond of that I took up civil engineering, I dreamt of applying for this master’s degree. Fire safety engineering is relatively young and there are only few experts in this field. The consortium universities belong to the best in the world and there is mobility – a unique characteristic of Erasmus Mundus – wherein a student has the opportunity to attend several educational institutions. Lastly, it is in Europe. Who would not want to experience living the European dream?

I set aside this dream for a while to gain professional experience. I applied for a job as a structural design engineer. During my interview, the supervisor asked me what my future plans are. I answered, “In two to three years, I will be applying for a scholarship to study abroad.” He asked me what field for which I was quick to answer, “fire engineering with focus on structures.” I applied for the IMFSE secretly so as not to preempt the situation, taking leave of absences to complete all the requirements.

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When I received the email that I was shortlisted for the interview, I told myself that this is a make-or-break, I need to prepare a lot and make the most out of the 30-minute allotted time because it is a competition after all. Days before the interview, I still do not have any idea of what am I going to say. Then, three nights before the interview day, I was watching the television when a documentary about the status of fire safety in the Philippines was being shown. Suddenly, I saw light and gained hope. I jotted down notes trying to filter as much details as possible. I asked myself, “Is this the universe’s way of helping me?”

P.S.: Tune-in for Part 2 of this article! 🙂

 

Glasgow and other adventures

For me as a student, one of the most important and distinguishing feature of IMFSE program is incredible possibility to travel. Just think, for 2 years you will have opportunity to live as a native in at least 3 countries!

All IMFSE freshmen came to Edinburgh or Ghent from other different countries and continents and the spirit of adventure is very alive in future Fire Safety Engineers.

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Those of us who are in Edinburgh have a day-off during the week, and by itself we had a tradition not to sit still, but to find every opportunity for adventures.

For last 3 weeks, our group had 3 very exciting and interesting trips. All of them were not far away from Edinburgh, because (thanks to Fire Dynamics) we really had a lot things to do.

The decision about first trip to famous Edinburgh’s neighbor was spontaneous:

“Tomorrow is Thursday, what are we going to do?”

“Of course, I will study hard all day and all night!” – would answer a good student.

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“Thursday – is Adventure Day. Let’s go to Glasgow!” – answered IMFSE students and the next morning we found ourselves at Glasgow Central Station.

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The first thing that catches your eye in Glasgow, in comparison to Edinburgh – are tall buildings and wide crowded streets with a lot of local people, not only tourists.

As the Lothian bus passes became useless as we left Edinburgh, we decided to explore Glasgow on foot. (SPOILER! We passed about 20 km for this day)

Each trip should have a little cherished goal, and our purpose was to find a local Hogwarts – the main campus of the University of Glasgow. But while we got there, we went through many-many –many Glasgow attractions, we found out a little bit about Charles Rennie Mackintosh (Gaudi of Glasgow), we visited the museum and even got to a concert of organ music!

I think we were very lucky with the weather, and it helped us to reach our destination successfully. We walked through beautiful parks, passed by beautiful buildings and – finally! – we reached Hogwarts!

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Some buildings of the gothic-styled University of Glasgow are really-really incredible! When we were in the inner courtyard of the university, it seemed to us as though we have magically entered Hogwarts and Harry Potter might just appear around the corner. We really felt the atmosphere of Hogwarts there, even despite the fact that Harry Potter movies have never been filmed on the campus of this University. And when it was time to leave, we wished we had broomsticks  (Nimbus 2000 would be fine) to fly around Glasgow as our tired legs groaned.

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Before the departure of the bus back to Edinburgh, we still had a few hours left. Farah (another IMFSE blogger) discovered interesting fact about huge number of street murals in Glasgow. And as some years ago we hunted Pokémons, now we hunted Murals of Glasgow. During our hunting we passed through the bank of the river, BBC Scotland office, giant Dragon’s eggs (it was Glasgow Science Centre) and several beautiful bridges.

Most of the found by us murals really looked unusual and interesting!

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Leaving glorious Glasgow was a bit sad, but returning back to Edinburgh felt like returning home. Deciding to keep the tradition, next Thursdays also took place in adventures and travels.

Many lakes of Highlands, peaks of Pentland’s hills, Isle of Skye, Newcastle and also many others Scotland’s sightseeings were reached by IMFSE students for this short period.

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Now we are looking forward to our great meeting all together in Ghent in the Fire Day.

And it is going to be LEGEN – wait for it – DARY!

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IMFSE Marathon

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For a long time, I was searching for a master program that I would really like to attend and would definitely give an impetus in my personal and professional life. Erasmus Mundus is definitely the page I would recommend to everyone and search for the best master programs held at leading worldwide universities. International Master of Fire Safety Engineering was the program which intrigued me the most, after searching about further details, somehow I knew I had to apply. Besides, fire safety is a very hot (literally hot) topic and the country I come from (Albania) has a lack of proper legislation or regulations regarding fire safety, so why not being a pioneer in implementing valuable knowledge (this is part of the dream).

May was the happiest month, I received an acceptance email from the IMFSE program and soon the visa and other document procedures started (I am not going to lie, these procedures are exhausting but strangely fun when you succeed). Here I am, starting my own marathon with few of my fellows in Gent University, Belgium. The rest of the crew will join us when we will be in Lund for our second semester, this is another amazing and fun part of this program, giving you the opportunity to travel and study in the best universities at the same time (couldn’t ask for more). The first week was the lovely welcoming week in Belgium, I tried lots of tasty beers and met the current second-year students, which shared their own IMFSE experience and shared with us some valuable tricks and tips for a smooth start 🙂

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The lectures started, I have to admit the first-week was a bit taught for me. Going back to classes and studying chemical and physical processes and their importance in fire dynamics and fire behavior, was a bit overwhelming for me. But on the other hand, the ability of the professors to explain in detail and illustrate this phenomenon makes the classes clear and enjoyable. Besides that, we have created a very good relation among us (students) and that makes the classes even more enjoyable, everybody is willing to help according to their previous study background.

I love the classes of Explosions (I know this sounds scary and not fun at all), the professor illustrates by performing experiments with products that I never thought they were able to ignite or burn, but creating the right environment they can even explode. The last experiment showed us how the coffee cream can create a small explosion (be careful people with the products you use in your house, just joking!).

This year the University celebrated its 200 anniversary and on the weekend (8th of October) the city of Ghent was hosting a lot of educational activities, I have to admit that the cityscape of Ghent is lovely and cozy.

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Aptly included in the name of this programme, my first week in the University of Edinburgh as an IMFSE freshmen was truly an international one. My first impression of this course would definitely be meeting the fellow students who I will be spending the next 2 years with. With classmates from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Romania, India, Bangladesh, China and Columbia, it is great getting to know them as well as their countries to greater detail. I had to even Google some of the countries to know where they are. Every time we get together, we are exchanging little titbits on our countries and culture which leads us to a section called…

DID YOU KNOW….
• The most famous sportsman in Kazakhstan is the boxer Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin or “GGG”. He shares the same home town as my classmate, Yekaterina!

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• Belarus is well-known for biathlon. For those who are only familiar with summer Olympics, like me, nope… this is not swimming/cycling/running (pick 2). Biathlon is a Winter Olympic sport involving running and shooting.

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• On the 18th September 2017, a powerful storm hit Romania. We heard about it while playing cards together and our Romanian friend, Bogdan was trying to contact home and get updates especially being a firefighter before joining programme. Our thoughts and prayers are with Romania.

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• India sent a strong contingent for IMFSE this year with 3 students starting their masters in Edinburgh. India may be a diverse country but one thing’s for certain, they sure love their spices. We got a taste of their home-cooked dishes during the potluck dinner and it felt like the spices are having a party in our mouth. So next time you are offered food from India, get ready to spice up your life!


• Other than Facebook and Youtube, Whatsapp is also blocked in China. If you are starting a Whatsapp group with your classmates, please do not forget your Chinese classmates and get them to download the app while they are overseas. Or we can all just go on WeChat!

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• Rohingya people from Myanmar have been fleeing to Bangladesh following conflicts with the Myanmar governments. I won’t delve into politics but having open discussions with my classmate, Tanveer, who is actively involved in this issue back home was really an eye-opener. Learn more about the world (and not only on fire) through your classmates!

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• On a lighter note, in Colombia, soup is a must before every meal. Kids, you don’t get your meal unless you finish your soup! (TIP: You have to try Plátanos Asados con Bocadillo y Queso (Baked Plantains with Guava and Cheese) once in your life. It’s awesome!!! I’m so happy we get to taste it thanks to our classmate, Silvia!!)

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Probably these are not new or “WOW” facts but I am learning everyday, not only in the classroom but outside just through casual interactions with classmates, seniors (like Darko! Check out his posts on Edinburgh too!), professors, other students or just random strangers. People in Edinburgh are really friendly and would not be shy away from talking about anything under the sun (if you are lucky enough to catch a pocketful of sunshine instead of a sky of clouds/rain)!. I’m truly looking forward to learning more, not only about fire but about international relations, world cultures and global issues (and surprisingly, these are probably the things we remember throughout our lives). So to my dear classmates, lets enjoy our time together learning more about each other too!

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That’s us meeting for the first time more than a month ago. A month has passed and we have gone through much together. Thank you IMFSE for allowing me to meet these wonderful people and more! The IMFSE is truly an INTERNATIONAL experience so immerse in it with an open mind and heart to all around you.

Welcome to Edinburgh

As it is always the case with summer vacation, it simply passed too quickly, but luckily what was about to follow was something even cooler than the vacation – the third quarter of my IMFSE. This chapter takes place in the capital of Scotland, at one of the most prestigious and best ranked universities in the World, the famous university of Edinburgh. (ranked 19th in the world according to 2016–17 QS Rankings)

Reading about the Uni, and even more hearing the stories from older students that used to study in Edinburgh, I only had high expectations from both the city and the school. I’m happy to state that so far this place went even beyond my expectations and hopes!sdr clone tag: 3987922764148943438

Moving to a new country is never an easy job. All over again you need to find your way around the city, meet new people, get used to new studying environment with new rules and methods in ways of teaching and organizing studies, get a Sim Card, find the cheapest grocery shop etc. But the most stressful part by far was searching for accommodation. As we are staying in town for only one semester (4 months), vast majority of landlords don’t want even to hear about signing a contract shorter than 6 months. It took me cca 10 days of going around the town and doing the so called “viewings” during which I already felt I got to know the city really well and literally thought that all the bus drivers already remembered me. The thing that basically saved me for those 10 days was my friend Christine who is living in Edinburgh and selflessly offered me to host me before I find a place to stay. It’s a great thing having such amazing friends.

On my 10th day in Edinburgh, just before the classes started, I finally got lucky and found a place for myself. To make things even better, I found a place to stay with my fellows Arjan and Khai.

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Classmates reunited 🙂

Monday was the day to start the school and to finally move in! It smelled like a good start 😊!

First day was reserved for the “welcoming lecture” held by professor Grunde Jomaas. The purpose of it was giving a broad picture of what fire safety engineering is all about, some more details about IMFSE program – especially about the University of Edinburgh part with a short presentation of the lecturers and PhD students involved in the Fire department, and finally giving us some first insights into what we can strive for and expect from both our future careers and life and studying in Edinburgh.

After the lecture, we were given a short “Tour of John Muir and William Rankine buildings“ showing us where all the professors and PhD student’s offices were, and even more importantly where the famous fire lab was 🔥. In the end professor Jomaas took us to a great burger place at campus where we could finally meet the first year students and enjoy some delicious food!

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Meeting the young IMFSE freshers immediately reminded me of me after meeting the 2nd year students last year. It was really interesting with all their curiosity and questions about the program, life, our experiences and advice etc. Another group of brilliant, smart and bright people just started our program. What can I say, it turns out again that IMFSE selection committee really does a great job 😊.

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Bridging the “lecturer – student” gap

While we were still digesting the lovely burgers from Monday and talking about the good welcoming day we had, fire group treated us with another yummy social event – already on Thursday at the Southern. This time we had the pleasure of meeting two more lecturers, Ricky Carvel and Rory Hadden, than a PhD Simon Santamaria, and of course meet again with prof Jomaas. We all agreed on how nice it was meeting the lecturers in an informal and friendly way.

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And as the first week was coming to an end, and we couldn’t imagine it being better, professor Jomaas invited us for a potluck dinner at his flat. It was a great opportunity to meet each other even more, this time in a slightly different way – through the various (inter)national dishes. Pictures as usual tell more than words.

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Freshmen getting some words of wisdom from Mr Dexters

By and large, the first week was truly remarkable and surely gave a good incentive to all of us to give our best during the semester – but also never to neglect the social side of life!