Alum Returns to Fire Protection Engineering as New Online Program Director

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The Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE) proudly welcomes industry veteran and long-time friend William “Bill” Koffel ’79 as a new professional instructor and the new online undergraduate program director. 

Koffel, who serves as a member of the Board of Visitors, was appointed as a visiting senior faculty specialist and director of the developing online undergraduate program starting on May 1. A seasoned engineer, he brings 45 years of experience and a commitment to improving learning outcomes for distance learners. 

“We are thrilled that Bill has accepted our offer to join FPE. He is bringing a wealth of experience to the department and will help us both as an instructor and as the director of the online undergraduate program,” said department Chair Arnaud Trouvé. “He will also help us maintain a balance between the practice and the research that is the dual legacy of the department.”

Koffel, who obtained his bachelor’s degree in FPE from the University of Maryland (UMD) in 1979, is the founder and president of engineering and code-consulting firm Koffel Associates Inc. His passion for education dates back to his time as a UMD senior, when he started teaching at a community college in Pennsylvania. He later became an adjunct faculty for UMD and other colleges. 

As a program director, his goal is to create an online experience that almost replicates the on-campus FPE program. He’s set to break the technological barriers that would enhance student support services and social engagement for distance learners, and comes devoted to train the next generation of fire protection engineers. 

“I am very excited about returning to the Department. I have always enjoyed teaching and I hope to enhance the education of both online and on-campus students based upon my experience as a practicing fire protection engineer. I can’t imagine a better way to eventually finish my career,” said Koffel. 

The incoming faculty is a Registered Professional Engineer in seven states and in Washington, D.C., and is set to obtain a master’s degree in education with a focus on instructional design for online learning from Capella University in December. 

As part of his engagement with leading industry organizations, Koffel has worked with the International Code Council and National Fire Protection Association, and was elected as the President for both the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA) in 2016, and the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) in 2003, where he is also an elected fellow. 

A passionate speaker of all things fire protection, Koffel has taught professional courses for SFPE and NFPA, and led multiple "Principles of Fire Protection Engineering" seminars, the most recent one hosted by the SFPE’s Montreal chapter in January. More recently, he’s presenting an industry codes and standards developments lecture at the Engineering Solutions Symposium hosted by SFPE in Phoenix, Arizona in early June. 

Some of his notable work includes co-authoring the American Hospital Association’s “Fire Warning and Safety Systems,” the industry’s go-to guide to selecting, testing, and maintaining fire suppression, fire alarm, and smoke control systems. 

Throughout his career, he remained a close friend of the department who participated in community-wide events, including chairing the planning committee for the “Celebrating the Milke Way” retirement reception that honored former Chair and Professor Emeritus Jim Milke. The department looks forward to welcoming the alum back home.

Published April 25, 2024