UQ thesis awarded with the 2016 IMFSE best thesis poster

Being an associated partner of the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE), The University of Queensland and the UQ Fire team hosted Daan Van den Broecke and Rukesh Shilpakar during preparation of their research theses. Short letters from Daan and Rukesh describe their time in Australia.


My too-short time in UQ

(by Daan Van den Broecke)

Two years ago I enrolled in the International Master of Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE).Day #1 in Australia…very, very jetlag (Southbank, Brisbane)This is a joint program between The University of Ghent, LundUniversity and The University of Edinburgh. As part of this 2-year European educational program, I got to travel to each of the universities to undertake courses in Fire Safety Engineering. During the last semester of the program, I was awarded with the opportunity of attending, partner institution of the IMFSE, The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Once at UQ, I worked on my Master’s thesis, focusing the use of automatic suppression systems used in car tunnels Would have never imagine this experience had so many other things to offer.

I was very excited to travel down under and being honest, had little idea of what to expect. Once arrived, settled and having enjoyed some sunshine, it was time to start focusing on the task at hand: working on my thesis project studying suppression systems in tunnels. The quest to finding an appropriate test setup resulted from discussions with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services  (QFES). We were on an incredibly tight schedule, nevertheless, we manage to manufacture a custom-built ‘carwash’; steel frame holding a single sprinkler nozzle, 5+ meters from the ground.

Now, we were ready for getting some real work done; i.e. burn some cars. After having carried numerous out water tests to determine the water distributions for every intermediate system pressure, we finally started the fire experiments. Placing the thermocouples, connecting them with the data logger, protecting them from the heat and the water. It was one hell of a job and there was no way I could do that on my own. Many from UQ Fire and QFES contributed towards the experimental setup, and I’m extremely grateful for their valuable support.

The car fire tests were an amazing experience. I took the responsibility of deciding when to active the suppression system went off in each test, essentially based on the growth of the fire. Interestingly, as we burned more cars, understanding was gained as to how much water would be necessary to drop the temperatures for a specific fire size; ultimately the intent of the project. We were able to burn 5 cars in three intense days.

Full-scale experiments are simply not always feasible; during this set of tests I was able to see and investigate how suppression systems were actually able to suppress burning cars. The preparation and testing days was exhausting, yet extremely rewarding, and I couldn’t wait to start assessing the experimental data. Of course, if I’m being completely honest, after the last testing day, all I could think of was dry clothes and badly needed rest.

My time at The University of Queensland was as the pinnacle of these two extraordinary years. Everything I had learned in the past semesters at Edinburgh, Ghent and Lund, had led to an experimental research that encouraged me to dig deeper into the fascinating fire ‘problem’. It was only because of the continuous guidance and contributions from everyone in UQ Fire that I was able to carry out experiments such scale. The semester was over before I could realise, and I already look back with nostalgia, as I’m getting ready for the next chapter of my life. But ultimately, I know that the new friends and memories I have made along the way will last a lifetime.


UQ Fire team at the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) Live Fire Campus Facility


My bonzer experience at UQ

(by Rukesh Shilpakar)

During the final semester of the two-year International Master in Fire Safety Engineering (IMFSE), I got the opportunity to completing my thesis project at The University of Queensland, Australia. The IMFSE program offers the opportunity to do the thesis at different universities around the world. Australia was an easy choice for me; first class university and perfect weather.

I arrived to Australia in mid-January, arriving from a cold winter in North Europe, straight into the hot and boiling Australia; not going to lie, I did struggle in the beginning. After my first week in Australia, I was all settle into the Australian lifestyle and it was time to get started with what had brought me there; the thesis project.

My topic was based in the fire performance, and more specifically adhesive fire behaviour of cross laminated timber systems. First things first, I spent the first couples of weeks defining the specifics of my proposed experimental work. Next step was to get going with preparation of test specimens; for this I had to come up with a system for manufacturing single-lap shear test samples.

Although there were numerous misfortunes along the way, the whole experience of coming up with the system to manufacture samples gave me an idea of what was ahead. I enjoyed each and every moment of my research project, cutting the timber plies, gluing and pressing them together were all fun but the best part was the experiment itself, nothing beats the satisfaction of hearing the noise of the timbers being teared apart, and the bonded interface failing.

The support I received from advisors, the technical staffs, and fellow students was invaluable, and I will always be grateful to each and every one of them for their valuable inputs and supports. Daan and I only had three and half months to complete
the projects and written thesis; hence most of our time near the end was spent between time in the lab and writing the thesis.

Besides the research experience, leaving in Australia allowed me to engage with the broad work being done by the UQ Fire team. Near the end of my time in Australia, I had the opportunity to assist a job interview with a multinational engineering company with offices in Brisbane.


Daan and Rukesh graduated from the IMFSE in September 2016. Daan received the IMFSE award for best thesis poster and was one of four nominees for the prestigious IFV-VVBA Thesis Award. Next month, Rukesh will start working at the Arup offices in Brisbane. Both their thesis can be found here.

Being an associated partner university of the International Master of Science in Fire Safety Engineering, The University of Queensland and the UQ Fire team wishes the best of luck to Daan and Rukesh in their new and exciting opportunities in the field of Fire Safety Engineering.

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