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.

A Moment to Remember

Without us knowing, the first semester in Edinburgh has come to an end and is closed by Christmas and New Year holiday. Our first semester would not be as enjoyable without the 2nd year students who had helped us settling in and provided us with “tricks” about how to enjoy our study in IMFSE programme. They even invited us for a movie night or a football game night every weekend for Premier League or every time there is a live football game being broadcast.

We also took turns in making a dinner for the night. I remember myself cooking a Chinese cuisine Ma La Xiang Guo (麻辣香锅) and Danny ended up drinking a jug of milk since it was too spicy for him. As I don’t really like spicy food, I also suffered from the spiciness. In order to retain my integrity as an Indonesian, who are famous for their great likings for spicy food, I tried to keep a cool head but failed miserably XD. Balsa and Jamie, the 2nd year students, were so good at this and able to finish them hands down.

As we took turns in cooking at movie night or football game night, Balsa also cooked cheesy nachos with jalapeño which was very delicious (sadly I forget to take a picture of this masterpiece), and Jamie made a Spanish food which was very good as well. There was one time when we were lazy to cook, we decided to buy chips of different flavor and mix them in one big bowl. How about Danny you ask? He hasn’t cooked for us and I will be sure to ask for one in Lund later..

We also managed to celebrate Christmas by throwing a dinner party in Dan’s and Joni’s place and doing the Secret Santa gift exchange! You can read more about this on Gerard’s blog “When Christmas Season Starts, Autumn Semester Ends”.

The best thing is that we finally get to meet in person our other half from Ghent in Lund, Sweden but sadly, on the other hand, we need to part ways with the 2nd year students – Balsa, Jamie, and Gerard will be doing their thesis in Edinburgh while Andrei will go to Australia for his thesis.

From left: Gerard, Jamie, Andrei, Balsa (from Gerard’s blog)

All in all, I wish every 2nd year students good luck for the thesis, and for all of IMFSE students, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019. Remember that it’s not a goodbye but instead, it’s a see you later!

see you

new year
Happy New Year 2019!

Don’t be passive. STUDY PASSIVE!

If you asked me at the start of my IMFSE journey what I am most fearful of, its structural fire protection. Having no structural background, I knew it would be a challenge and having started in Edinburgh followed by Lund, I was able to avoid it for most of my IMFSE journey…. until now.  However, over the course of my studies, I have grown to have an appreciation for structural fire engineering, acknowledging that it is a critical gap in knowledge for me to become a “complete” fire safety engineer. True enough, when the 3rd semester came, passive fire protection had become the course that I was most excited for knowing that I would be swimming (or should I say drowning….) in my own uncharted intellectual waters.


During one of the many structural fire engineering seminars organised by Dr. Ruben (I could tell he is really adament about us students having a good outlook on structural fire engineering… and with good reason too!), Danny Hopkins from OFR consultants presented a slide which is adopted from Guillermo Rein’s idea of “lame substitution”: where fire engineers replaces structural engineering (and vice versa) with pseudo science. This encapsulates the importance of the study of structural fire engineering as a integration of two disciplines instead of studying them separately and merely using simplified inputs from the other to justify the fire/structure design. This starts with education and got me thinking as a student, why do we take the excuse of not having a structural engineering background be a stumbling block for us learning structural fire engineering? Why don’t we have the same negative attitude for other subjects like “I’m not a psychologist so why should I study human behaviour” or “I am not a scientist so why should I study fire dynamics”? With growing fire engineering challenges such as the rise of timber buildings and more complex building designs, we ought to accept that this integration between fire and structures is becoming more and more critical in the development of fire safety engineering in the world.

Despite these lofty ideals, back in the classroom, I am still having a hard time dealing with a simple column/beam/slab. Every lesson was extremely intense and drained a lot of energy by the end of it. Despite my attempts at trying to be positive, it was especially frustrating when I don’t even know what I don’t know. Thankfully, Professor Annerel was patient with our endless (sometimes embarrassingly basic) questions when we try (although most of the time failing) to solve his exercises on our own. To incoming IMFSE students who are going “oh shit” at this, don’t worry… IMFSE have improved their already awesome syllabus by including “Structural Mechanics” into the Semester 1 syllabus in Edinburgh and the “Basics of Structural Engineering” course in UGent is being revamped to cater to students with and without structural background. Future IMFSE students would be better equipped to face more advanced modules related to structural fire engineering and eventually, better tackle structural fire safety issues in their career. Kudos to IMFSE for continually improving the programme to develop better fire safety engineers for the future… well, that’s why they won the SFPE David A. Lucht Lamp Of Knowledge Award right?

It also helps to have helpful classmates with background on structures to guide us along the way. Our resident structure guru, Tanveer, held group study sessions so that we could keep up with some basics of structures to get us through the course and prepared us for the exams. We could not have gone through this course without his help. I was also proud of what my group consisting of Bogdan, Silvia and Ayappa achieved for our group work. Despite our obvious lack of structural background, we were able to produce a sound (albeit simple) report where all of us made significant contributions even though we had to learn everything from scratch.

Although Passive Fire Protection could potentially be the reason why I would be required to return to UGent prematurely next semester, I was glad to have at least some exposure to structural fire engineering which despite being challenging, is an interesting and essential field of fire safety engineering. It would be naive to believe we are experts after this but having an appreciation for it is crucial to our development as fire safety engineers. So, for those without structural background, be open minded and don’t shy away from the unknown. Face the challenges of learning something out of your league head on for the sake of being better, more wholesome fire engineers in the future. How about those who are already well-versed in structural engineering? The fire safety engineering community needs you more than you know. Not only to develop further the intersection zone between the two disciplines but also to guide us noobs in structural engineering so that together, we could build better but more importantly safer, infrastructure.