Each year, the Center for Life Safety Education (CLSE) and the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) come together to award $7,000 in scholarship funds to two exceptional students studying fire protection engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park. For the 2016-2017 academic year, those winners are Selena Chin and Jessica Doermann.
Selena Chin is the 2016 first-place winner, receiving a $4,000 scholarship. She is a member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) and the Society of Women Engineers and finds these clubs provide good outreach and networking opportunities.
“Because outreach was such an integral part of me declaring fire protection as my major, I have also volunteered as part of outreach for fire protection engineering. At my high school, I volunteer on a panel for their Student Women Engineers Club where I talked about my major in particular, but also answered any questions on the engineer school or college life in general. I also help the fire protection department out for Maryland Day.”
Chin studied abroad at the Danish Technical University in Denmark and interned two summers at Northrop Grumman in its Environmental Health, Safety and Fire Protection sector.
“Being ambitious is part of who I am; I take advantage of every opportunity I am presented with and am not satisfied unless I give 110 percent,” Chin says.
Chin has also done research while at the university. “Taking up research was an easy decision for me because not only did it allow me to explore the different paths of fire protection, but it also ultimately allows me to make a valuable contribution to the fire protection community,” she states.
Chin became interested in engineering in high school and chose the fire protection field once she visited the University of Maryland and the department’s informational table at Maryland Day.
“ … I really liked the life-safety aspect of the field because helping people was one of the reasons why I wanted to be an engineer. … My experiences in research and internships have only increased my passion for studying fire protection.”
Chin’s instructors describe her as being “intelligent” and “thoughtful,” and “extremely qualified.” Her professors comment she is always at the top of the class and that she is an excellent student, at times challenging herself with harder coursework than required.
Second-place winner Jessica Doermann feels “lucky” to have found the fire protection engineering department.
“ … It has become my home. It has been through this department that I have met most of my friends, joined extracurricular activities and found my internships.”
Doermann is an active member of SFPE, Alpha Omega Epsilon engineering sorority, A. James Clark School of Engineering ambassadors, and the College Park, Maryland Volunteer Fire Department.
Serving as a volunteer EMT/firefighter at the fire department has allowed Doermann to learn about the “other side” of fire protection.
“It is rewarding to see how systems and products we learn about in class, such as fire hydrant adapters and standpipe systems, work and help the fire department when there is a fire. Along with learning about the practical side of fire protection, the fire department also gives me the opportunity to serve my community and its people,” she says.
In addition, she states that being an ambassador has helped her share her passion for fire protection with prospective students, “encouraging them to become the next generation of fire protection innovators and life savers.”
Doermann’s professors describe her as “energetic, well-spoken, and highly committed to fire protection engineering.”
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) established the Philip L. DeCamara, Jr. Scholarship in 1984, to honor a man who used his creative talents during his lifetime to advance the goals of the fire sprinkler industry. Today, the scholarship is sponsored jointly by AFSA and CLSE. The annual scholarship is awarded to students majoring in the fire protection engineering program at the University of Maryland, DeCamara’s alma mater. The DeCamara scholarship is funded through donations by individuals and companies. AFSA and CLSE thank those who have supported the Philip L. DeCamara Jr. Scholarship with their donations. To find out more about the scholarship programs, or to support these scholarships with your tax-deductible donation, visit CLSE.org.