Undergraduate student Otter Quarks talks about his summer placement in fire engineering:
"From July to September 2021, I performed a twelve-week summer internship working as a Fire Engineer Placement at Trigon Fire Safety Ltd, in Richmond, London. I performed this internship to complement my studies as a second-year mechanical engineering student at Imperial College London, after my professor Guillermo Rein made me aware of this position.
My main goal approaching the internship was to gain experience of working as a consultant engineer in the industry, something that I lacked and believed would be a key part of my education. Not knowing much about fire engineering or fire safety prior to the internship, and having a passion for learning, I was also keen to discover the world of fire safety and the role of a fire safety engineer. Aside from this, I had little idea of what to expect from this internship, except for an interest in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling of fire and smoke, a topic which tied in well with mechanical engineering modules such as Fluid Mechanics or Heat Transfer, which I studied at university.
Having discussed these goals with my mentor at Trigon, we established right at the start objectives for my internship. The objectives defined were to gain experience of working in an engineering consultancy, learn how to work with CFD, gain an understanding of the Building Regulations by working on both commercial and residential projects, and undertake research on broader topics related to fire engineering.
During my time, I was able to work as an integral member of the Trigon team, allowing me to gain an understanding of working as an engineer in the fire industry and I was able to work on over 30 different projects, something I never expected from a summer internship.
The projects I worked on included several projects in which I used CFD to simulate a fire in buildings and observe changes in tenability conditions, so as to determine whether it was safe for occupants to escape. Additionally, I was able to work on both residential and commercial building design projects, where I supported the development of Fire Safety Strategy reports, following guidance documents such as Approved Document B and British Standards to show what active and passive fire safety measures needed to be taken for the building to comply with Part B of the Building Regulations.
I performed several research studies, which included both literature reviews and CFD studies of my own, where I researched topics such as specific fire risks and fire load of buses, suppression of ethanol fires, fire safety of green walls and roofs, and performance of different smoke ventilation systems for single stair office buildings. Finally, I was also able to take part in other tasks such as the preparation of fee proposals, participation in client and design team meetings, or non-intrusive site visits.
Overall, I was very pleased that my work had not only contributed to my personal growth, but also contributed to Trigon, as I was able to assist them on actual projects, provide research on new topics, and work as a contributive member of their team.
These projects not only allowed me to gain an understanding of the technical and life skills required to be a fire engineer, but also opened my eyes to the vast and rapidly evolving landscape of the modern fire engineering industry, a whole sector of engineering I had hardly ever head of before.
Throughout my time I learned a significant range of different skills, from technical knowledge or software application such as the use of CFD tools, project management skills, and overall life skills such as effectively communicating (verbal and writing) with clients. I believe these skills will be of great use to me in any career path I should choose, and the whole experience proved to be equally as valuable educationally as my own studies at university, granting me many key life skills that cannot be taught in a lecture hall. Overall, I am very grateful to the whole Trigon team for providing me with such an interesting and enjoyable learning experience."
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