On Friday November 20, Dr. Fred Mower and Dr. Dennis “Skip” Parks made the 3.5 hour trek from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco to update the membership of the Northern California/Nevada chapter of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers on the status of the future Fire Protection Engineering program at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. After lunch, Dr. Mowrer gave the approximately 30 attendees a 1/2-hour presentation covering the current status of Cal Poly’s fire protection engineering program and planned future activities.
Some of the main bullet points include:
- After considering both BS and certificate-based programs, the decision was made to offer a full MS degree in fire protection engineering.
- The first classes will be offered during Fall Term 2010 (mid September 2010).
- Courses will be offered both on campus as well as via distance learning (lectures delivered over the internet or on DVDs).
- Although the course catalog is still being finalized, possible course titles include Fundamental Thermal Sciences, Fire Dynamics, Flammability Assessment Methods, Fire Modeling, Egress Analysis and Design, Fire Detection Alarm and Communication systems, Water-based fire suppression, Structural fire protection, Fire safety regulation and management, and Smoke management and special hazards.
- Several current full-time Cal Poly SLO faculty will help out with the teaching load. Additional adjunct faculty members, drawing from the large numbers of fire protection engineers in the San Francisco and Los Angeles population centers, will also be hired to teach specialized courses.
- Cal Poly’s FPE program will emphasize teaching, not research, and is intended to produce new fire protection engineers trained not only in fundamentals, but also the practical/real-world side of the fire protection engineering business.
- Due to California’s budget woes, Cal Poly’s FPE program must be entirely self supporting (i.e., paid for by student tuition). A large National Science Foundation award has been applied for to help support on-campus students.
An enthusiastic discussion occurred after Dr. Mowrer’s presentation. It was obvious from the questions asked that the local SFPE chapter members in attendance were very supportive of the program. It was pointed out that for years one of the biggest challenges with Fire Protection Engineering in California is that recent FPE graduates from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Maryland often relocate to California after graduation, work for a few years, and then move “back East” just as they’re starting to get productive. By generating “home grown” California Fire Protection Engineers, it is hoped that Cal Poly’s FPE program in San Luis Obispo will help alleviate this problem and build a strong Fire Protection Engineering industry in California.
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