Position: University lecturer and researcher Field: Fire engineering Organisation: Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury
Mike’s interest in fire engineering developed during his first job. He had completed a physics degree and was working in the UK in an organisation that does research into all aspects of buildings, which included fire safety.
Mike then completed a master’s in fire protection engineering in the United States. Mike continued to work in the UK during the semester breaks and spent quite a bit of time going backwards and forwards between countries. Once he had finished the master’s, Mike was able to get a 5-year position at the University of Canterbury that was partially funded by the New Zealand Fire Service. During that time, Mike completed his PhD. Since then, he has obtained a permanent position at the university.
Mike says he never had any intention of working in fire safety or as a university lecturer or moving to New Zealand.
Life just leads you down paths you never knew you would take.Mike Spearpoint
What his position involves
Mike’s current position involves teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses in fire engineering. He also supervises a number of master’s and PhD students who are doing their research into a wide range of fire engineering topics. Some of his time is spent doing general administration of the fire programme. The rest of his time is used to prepare research papers and conduct his own research.
Currently, he is developing fire evacuation modelling software, which involves writing the program and then testing it. He hopes this software will have commercial applications in the future although it’s still too early to say whether that will happen.
When asked about his personal interests, Mike says, “We’re not all workaholics and geeks – but some of us are! I try to play some social tennis when the weather allows. I’m keen on listening to my music collection, and I’m also involved in online strategic games with a group of people based all around the world – so, yes, that makes me a geek.”
This article is based on information current in 2009.