Department of Fire Protection Engineering
A. James Clark School of Engineering
What is FPE?
SUPPRESSION AND DETECTION:
How quickly can a fire be detected? What’s the best way to put it out? Fire protection engineers (FPEs)
design sensors, sprinkler systems and systems with other suppressants such as foam and special gases.
Every building has its own needs, whether it’s a home, office building, or museum.
How long can your furniture, electronics, clothes or materials in a car resist heat and ignition? FPEs test
and improve existing fire-resistant materials, and help design new ones.
FPEs use sensors, weather data, satellite imagery, and computer modeling to predict and visualize
wildfire behavior. Information on wildland fires can be highly useful to emergency responders fighting
such fires and planning community evacuations.
BELOW: Numerical simulations help us understand the physical
phenomena of flames at various scales, including emissions and soot
formation, as well as how suppression systems will perform.
ABOVE: Clinical Professor Ken Isman reviews building plans
with students who are designing its fire protection systems,
including sprinklers, fire alarms, and a fire pump. This is a job
many graduates will perform in the field.
What is FPE? (continued….)
FIRE DYNAMICS & BEHAVIOR:
How long will it take something to reach its peak burning rate? How hot will it burn? What conditions will be
created by fires that may lead to casualties, damage to buildings and the environment? FPEs conduct experiments
and run computer simulations to understand the hazards posed by fires.
TRACKING SMOKE, SOOT & GASES:
Most fatalities in fires are caused by smoke inhalation. FPEs study how much smoke is produced, track its
movement and develop methods to restrict its movement or exhaust it. Fires are also a significant source of air
pollution that may have short- and long-term effects on human and environmental health.
HUMAN BEHAVIOR & LIFE SAFETY:
How do people behave in a fire? What can be done to give them the best chance to escape? FPEs ensure buildings
have appropriate escape routes and features that keep fire contained.
Wireless communication systems are being designed to allow firefighters to monitor the temperature, location and
spread of fire prior to going into dangerous situations.
BELOW: Undergraduates get hands-on experience in
and outside of class, including visits to the Maryland
Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI) and testing fire pumps
in campus buildings.
ABOVE: Students use our Fire Dynamics Lab to
conduct experiments involving fire behavior and
spread, burn rates and ignition.
• FPE at UMD offers the only fully-accredited B.S. in the field - we offer combined B.S./M.S. and M.Eng. programs.
• Everyone needs fire safety experts, but most people don’t know the profession exists. There are typically two
open positions for each student who graduates from our program and employers come from all over the world to
• All students must meet the admission and progress standards of UMD. There is no separate application process
but admission to the A. James Clark School of Engineering is highly competitive. Our applicants typically have
strong performance in STEM coursework, competitive SAT or ACT scores, and a diverse set of STEM-related
involvements and leadership experience. Transfer students accepted to the Clark School may also join our
program. See admissions.umd.edu for more information.
• Students consistently attain internships, part-time employment, and research experiences. Financial support is
available. Many of our students are supported by scholarships as well.
• We’re a small department in a big university, which means you’ll have the advantages of both. Our tight-knit
community offers more personal advising and relationships with faculty members that last beyond graduation.
Students also have the opportunity for in and outside of the classroom experiences (e.g. Engineers Without
• Our programs offer opportunities for students interested in protecting people and the environment, conducting
computer simulations, designing protection systems, creating products, and developing fire-safety materials.
Right: FPE undergrads
compete and win the 2019
Alumni Cup Competition.
Left: FPE alum Cara Hamel (‘16)
conducts fire-whirl research.
What Our Students Are Saying…
The community I immediately found and experienced within FPE has made a significant difference in my
academics and in my life – Ashlynne Orcurto (‘19)
My internship at SmithGroup was my first internship in college, so it was eye opening for me. I was able to
apply what I learned in my FPE classes in the field – Eugene Green (Dec. ‘19)
Having the practical experience provided by FPE has given me more confidence in my problem-solving abilities –
Margaret Tatum (May ‘18)
My favorite class was Human Behavior in Fire, which I took abroad at Lund University in Sweden during a
semester abroad - Karley Copperthite (May ‘19)
I'm so grateful to have such amazing opportunities in my career due to the dedication of FPE faculty and staff –
Chris Hallock (May ‘19)
Connect with FPE To schedule a visit to our department and
laboratories, send an email to [email protected].