EKU Online Student and O'Neil Inc Wins SIEMENS Award for Fire and Life Safety Design

An Eastern Kentucky University Online fire protection and safety engineering technology student was among the winners of the fourth annual Siemens Engineering Innovation Award for fire and life safety design. Tom Goss accepted the honor at Fenway Park in Boston during the recent annual conference of the National Fire Protection Association.

“This is the proudest moment of my fire protection career,” said Goss. “I am over the moon.”

Goss works as a design specialist for the fire safety group at O’Neal Inc. in Greenville, South Carolina. The company was selected for its innovative design approach incorporating Siemens’ Firefinder XLS fire panel into an existing specialty polymers site for Solvay in Augusta, Georgia. The design allows first responders to quickly take control if a fire occurs, while conserving the amount of water used to extinguish it.

Goss was especially pleased to accept the award with EKU Fire and Safety Associate Professor William Hicks at his side. He credits the team’s success, in part, to what he gained from EKU’s fire protection program. 

“In my twenty years of fire protection design, this is, by far, the hardest project I have ever worked on,” he wrote in an email to EKU staff. “The fact that I was able to work with a mentor of mine, Mike Cromer (a former P.E. at O'Neal), and that I was able to apply heat flux calculations that I learned at EKU really make this award special to me.”

The project was selected by a panel of fire protection experts that included Dr. James Milke, chair of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering and professor at the University of Maryland; Dr. Tahar El-Korchi, professor and department head at Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute; Andy King, assistant chief and fire marshal for the City of Franklin, Tennessee, and vice chair for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Fire and Life Safety Section and for the International Code Council Fire Code Action Committee; and Chris Jelenewicz, senior manager for Engineering Practice at Society of Fire Protection Engineers and technical editor of Fire Protection Engineeringmagazine.

Milke said participating on the panel allows him to see the creative solutions being implemented in the field. “In turn, my students can see how real-use examples of recent cutting-edge innovations are helping address specific fire protection challenges,” he explained. 

The award was commissioned from Waterford Crystal in Ireland and crafted to resemble a traditional fire alarm pull box.

EKU’s bachelor’s degree program in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology (FPSET) is accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

EKU is an accredited, brick-and-mortar institution celebrating more than 100 years of student success. It is ranked among the best schools offering online degree programs by U.S. News and World Report and Military Times. To learn more, visit go.EKU.edu/Siemens17.

Published on July 25, 2017

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