FPE Faculty Friday: Spotlighting Clinical Professor, Ken Isman
Ken Isman, a clinical professor in the UMD Department of Fire Protection Engineering (FPE), has been with the department for six years. After completing the program himself in 1986, his contributions to the fire safety community have made significant impacts, and helped set the standard for fire protection systems. We got to know more about him recently in preparation for this week's #FacultyFriday...
So, what is your favorite part of the role you play at UMD?
I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone that I love teaching, especially subjects like fire sprinklers and fire pumps. I've been learning about fire protection for more than 40 years, and I feel this incredible responsibility to pass on what I know. I enjoy teaching the ENFP250 class (usually the first course in fire protection our students take) and then helping out with ENFP411 (usually the last course our students take). It gives me great pleasure to see the growth and maturity that occurs with each of our students between these two points in time.
What is your favorite aspect of FPE and the fire protection field, in general?
Within the Jewish faith, we believe that God intentionally made the world incomplete, with a few flaws, and our purpose for existence is to become a partner in creation with God and search out one of these flaws and work to fix it. In Hebrew, this is the concept of Tikun Olam (translates as "repair the world," or "continue repairing"). As a teenager in the 1970's, I learned from my father (fire chief in Montgomery County and later Fairfax County) that more than 12,000 people each year were dying in fires in the U.S. and that fire was taking an enormous toll physically and financially on people all over the world. I've always been pretty good with math and science, and I love solving problems and puzzles, so I decided that putting those talents to good use would be my contribution to Tilkun Olam. I've always enjoyed the work, helping people to save lives, property and the environment, as well as the community of fire protection engineers. It's a small community, so we all get to know each other, and there is a great deal of fun and interesting people in fire protection, so I'm thrilled that I've been able to be a part of the Department, and work for so long, in an industry that is so enjoyable.
What do you do in your spare time?
I'm a musician. I sing in a local choir, I play tuba and trombone (you can catch me in the Maryland Alumni Band during homecoming football games and in the Basketball Pep Band during the Dec/Jan semester break), and I play guitar and sing at local 'open mic' nights. I've also been trained as a layman to lead religious services in the Jewish faith, so I fill in a few times a year for the Rabbi or the Cantor when they need a break or are not available. If I have any free time after this, I read a book.
Any new and/or interesting research or academic work you are interested in, or currently doing?
I've been working with the Fire Protection Research Foundation for more than six years on finding sprinkler protection criteria for storage occupancies with sloped roofs, and we're close to being able to say that we know how to deal with this problem, which will be a huge step forward for practicing engineers. I'm also working on writing a book called, An Introduction to Fire Protection Engineering, which will be a great textbook for both the ENFP 250 and the ENFP 601 classes. I'm hoping to have the bulk of it written by the Fall, but that might be optimistic thinking.
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Published April 24, 2020