FPE at Maryland

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  • Founded in 1956
  • More than $2.3 million in research expenditures in 2017
  • Eight tenure-track faculty
  • Core research areas: Fire behavior, fire simulations, material flammability, wildfires, fire in microgravity, fire detection and suppression, smoke movement and control, evacuation analyses
  • Center affiliates include FireTEC, Center for Disaster Resilience, Carrier Center
  • Three Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Fellows
  • Enrollment: 140 in Fall 2018
  • Percentage of female students: 30% in Fall 2018
  • Degrees awarded: 23 in Spring 2018
  • Total Enrollment: 19 (M.S.), 28 (M.Eng) 
  • Percentage of Female Students, Fall 2018: 36% (M.S.), 18% (M.Eng)
  • Degrees Awarded in 2018: 26 
Clark School Facts & Figures

Meet the Chair

James Milke

A member of the faculty and staff since 1977, Dr. Milke is Professor and Chair of the Department. His principal areas of expertise involve smoke management, fire detection and analyzing the response of materials exposed to fire conditions. Milke is also Director of the distance option for the Master of Engineering Program.

In 1991, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland (UMD) in Aerospace Engineering. He received a Master of Science degree from UMD in Mechanical Engineering, and is a 1976 graduate of the UMD Fire Protection Engineering program. Dr. Milke also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Ursinus College.

Dr. Milke has served as a Research Fire Prevention Engineer at the Center for Fire Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as the Fire Protection Engineer for Fairfax County, Virginia, as a Research Assistant for the University of Maryland and as a consultant to several organizations.

Dr. Milke is a Fellow and a past president of the SFPE. He is a member of the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association for Fire Safety Science. He is a member of the Fire Council of Underwriters Laboratories and the NFPA Technical Committee on Smoke Management Systems.  He is a past member of NFPA Standards Council. He is the past-chair of the NFPA Technical Committee on Smoke Management Systems and the ASCE/SFPE committee, "Structural Design for Fire Conditions." He was a member of the Core Group of the FEMA Building Performance Assessment Team for the World Trade Center incident on September 11, 2001.


FPE Chair and Professor James MilkeChair's Message

It is my pleasure to serve as Chair of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE). The department has a long tradition of providing high-quality education programs in the field, conducting a broad range of research and serving the community and profession. The department is one of eight academic departments in the A. James Clark School of Engineering and is known for maintaining a close-knit community atmosphere with collaborative relationships between students, faculty and staff.

We are proud of our on-campus and distance education programs leading to degrees in fire protection engineering. A list of the degree programs and mode of delivery is noted below:

Bachelor of Science degree
Master of Science degree
Master of Engineering degree

The department has agreements with the other engineering departments in the Clark School to permit students to pursue a Ph.D., taking fire protection engineering graduate courses and conducting their dissertation research in the fire protection field under the guidance of an FPE faculty advisor.

More information is available as linked above for the various degree options. We hope that you’ll consider applying to one of the programs and joining us. Should you need additional information on any of the degree programs, please contact the point of contact for the respective programs.

The faculty in the department conducts a wide variety of research in the field. Recent projects include experimental and computational efforts to explore fire behavior, material ignition and burning characteristics, spontaneous ignition, small-scale experimental methods, fire detector response, sprays from sprinklers and nozzles, evacuation, and smoke control. The research contributes to the fire protection engineering field by improving the understanding of fire behavior, developing design aids, and making advances in fire investigations. See the Research page for more information.

The extraordinary support of our alumni is highly appreciated. They remain connected to and supportive of the department in countless ways, including participation as members of our Curriculum Advisory Committee, contributing their professional expertise to classes as adjunct faculty and mentoring our students in class projects and internships. Please follow the link for a detailed Strategic Plan (2016-2020).

The Fire Research and Education (FIRE) Center was established in 2003 as a membership organization. Members support our most talented undergraduates with scholarships and provide financial support to our best graduate students as they progress to advanced degrees.

The Department's Fire Testing and Evaluation Center (FireTEC) initiative provides an opportunity for companies to take advantage of the department’s laboratory facilities and expertise to conduct experimental studies to explore the fire performance of materials, products and systems.

Please contact us if you have questions about our degree programs, research and testing, or other ways to connect with Fire Protection Engineering.

James Milke, Ph.D., P.E., FSFPE
B.S. FPE ’76