What is the Fire Protection Engineering Design Challenge (FPEDC)?

The FPEDC is a one-of-a-kind competition open to high school students in Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia. It involves the design, construction and (burn) testing of a small housing model where the challenge is to provide innovative means of fire detection and suppression.

By participating in the program, students will:

1. Understand the principles of fire protection engineering
2. Gain experience in creative design and construction
3. Practice the scientific method to formulate and test hypotheses
4. Develop increased confidence in their abilities to succeed in STEM 

Please Note: this program is being held virtually for the 2020-2021 academic year, but the FPEDC will return for the 2021-2022 academic year!  

If you are a student: Build Your Team!

Invite 2 - 4 students in your school to participate in the competition with you. Each team should be composed of no less than 3 students and no more than 5 students. Embrace diversity of talent and background – teams that involve students with different perspectives, skills and interests are usually successful in projects like this. 

No technical expertise is required to participate in the competition – all teams will receive the necessary background on key fire protection engineering concepts (through professional mentors and provided audiovisual and written instructional materials) to effectively participate in the program. FPEDC accommodates as many teams as are created at each participating school. Each team should nominate a leader who will serve as a liaison between the team and FPE.

For your group to be officially recognized as a participating team, you will need to complete the Student Team Application (only one application is required for each team) and have each member of your team sign and return the program’s Consent and Release Form (see section on “Downloadable Resources” below for a copy of this form). 

If you're a teacher: Serve as an In-School Mentor!

In-school mentors are teachers who have volunteered to support the participation of students in the competition. Teachers will also supplement the guidance provided by professional mentors by checking in regularly with student teams and supporting them as needed. When necessary or appropriate, teachers will also serve as liaisons between the FPE and student teams.

If you are a fire protection engineer: Become a Professional Mentor!

Each participating team will be assigned a professional mentor. Professional mentors are not required to lecture as students are provided with an easy-to-follow curriculum and supplementary videos that cover all the information they need to know to effectively participate in the competition. Professional mentors, however, are expected to meet with students (either virtually or in person), at least monthly, over the course of the competition to clarify concepts, conduct lab demonstrations (see section on “Downloadable Resources” for our Lab Demonstrations Guide), and provide mentoring. Professional mentors are expected to be available via email to answer students’ inquires that specifically pertain to their projects. 

Opening "Kick-Off" Event:  November 2021 (Location TBD)

The opening event for the Design Challenge typically takes place during the third week of November. During this event, students are given an overview of the competition, the opportunity to meet other competitors, ask questions and participate in mental exercises to gear up for the competition. 

Final Burn Day: April 2022 (Location TBD)

The Challenge culminates in a Final Burn day, which involves the (burn) testing of each participating team’s small housing structure outfitted with fire detection and suppression systems. 

Typically, the final 'burn' events are held at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Research Laboratory in Greenbelt, Maryland. The designs/model homes and suppression systems are constructed by FPE members who will also 'burn' test the models in the lab. For the 2021/2022 academic year, we do not yet know if the final burn will be virtual, or in-person - stay tuned for more information!  

  • TBD  (stay tuned for more information!)

Once you have a team, of no more than 5 people assembled, follow this link to complete the application.


Questions? Please send an email to enfp@umd.edu