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A Collective Undergraduate Class Project Reconstructing The September 11, 2001 World Trade Center Fire

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Design of Lab Experiments I

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.16.1 - 12.16.15

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Paper Authors

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Andre Marshall University of Maryland

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James Quintiere University of Maryland

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Collective Undergraduate Class Project Reconstructing the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center Fire

Abstract Fire Protection Engineering undergraduate students enrolled in a fire assessment laboratory course conducted their own investigation of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center disaster by simulating the fire that followed the aircraft impact. The project focused on characterizing the fire on the 96th floor of WTC1 (North Tower) and evaluating the contribution of the fire to the structural collapse. Students contacted vendors and suppliers for the World Trade Center to get information regarding construction details and fire properties of building materials and furnishings. Students also obtained information reported from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Building and Fire Research Laboratory investigation of the World Trade Center collapse. A 1/20th scale model of the original structure (including damage effects from the aircraft and liquid fuel dispersed from the aircraft impact) was designed, constructed, and instrumented over ten weeks corresponding to the last half of the semester. Students held briefing for invited guests from the university, government agencies and industry prior to the actual scale model test. Results from the test were recorded continuously with video and with an automated data acquisition system for detailed analysis. Analysis of the results in the scaled spatial and temporal coordinates provided insight into peak temperatures, smoke production rates, and fire growth behavior that may have occurred in the actual WTC1 fire. This classroom study provided an excellent opportunity for students to apply classroom principles to a problem of significant social and engineering relevance.

1. Introduction 1.1. Fire Protection Engineering The Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland offers a unique program of study in Fire Protection Engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels. We offer the only fully accredited undergraduate program and one of the two graduate degree programs in the U.S. in this area. Fire Protection Engineering includes the thermal and fluid sciences, combustion, materials, human behavior, egress modeling, toxicity, and reliability and risk analysis. In this field, we focus on reducing the burden of fire losses through engineering design, development, and research. Fire Protection Engineers may be involved with the design of fire protection systems; the analysis of fire protection performance in buildings, nuclear power plants, or even aerospace vehicles; or research in areas such as fire propagation, suppression, or detection. Fire Protection Engineering is a multi-disciplinary field that is not fulfilled by any other branch of engineering. Our pedagogical aim is to provide the technical knowledge and skills to either practice or pursue advanced studies in the field. Our curriculum shares a high degree of commonality with the other UM engineering departments in the first two years of study. In the last two years of study, our students take their major courses which range from fluid mechanics and fire dynamics to hazard analysis. This paper showcases a special class project that was conducted in our ENFP320 Fire Assessment Methods and Laboratory Course offered to Fire Protection Engineering students in their third year of study.


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