SC State adds fire protection option to civil engineering degree to meet industry needs

The SC State Engineering and Computer Science Complex.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE) recently approved South Carolina State University’s addition of a fire protection engineering ( FPE ) concentration under the existing bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering.

The addition of the concentration was prompted by needs expressed by officials at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) for engineers with expertise in fire protection.

“Savannah River Nuclear Solutions applauds SCSU’s vision in developing the fire protection engineering concentration,” said Dr. Sean Alford, SRNS executive vice president and chief administrative officer. “This critical skillset is in great demand at the Savannah River Site, and it has been an honor for us to partner with a prestigious Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to fill a huge void in our state.

“Graduates of the program will work to protect lives for decades to come,” Alford said.

The SC State Board of Trustees approved the university’s FPE proposal at its Sept. 15 meeting. The CHE gave the official go-ahead on June 6.

“The fire protection program will prepare one to use the knowledge of fire prevention and suppression to design and recommend equipment to assist multiple organizations in safeguarding life and property against fire and related hazards,” said Dr. Frederick Evans, SC State’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

In the proposal for the program, SC State noted that few institutions in the nation offer baccalaureate degree programs in fire protection engineering. Every year FPE positions go unfilled, showing demand for such engineers around the country.

The new concentration’s objective is twofold:

  1. To produce graduates in fire protection engineering who are qualified to meet the staffing needs of SRNS, leaders of which pledged to work with the university to develop the program.
  2. To produce graduates to fill the ever-growing need in South Carolina and across the nation.

“Savannah River Nuclear Solutions is an exemplary partner for SC State,” SC State President Alexander Conyers said. “Along with offering internships to our engineering students, SRNS is a valuable resource not just for our nuclear engineering program, but also for our other STEM-related efforts.

“By coming to SC State with this workforce development need in fire protection engineering, SRNS demonstrated faith in what this university can do for employers across the state of South Carolina and beyond,” Conyers said.

Dr. Stanley Ihekweazu, dean of SC State’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM-T), emphasized that the fire protection engineering program is not designed to replace the university’s regular civil engineering degree program.

“It is simply a concentration within the civil engineering program that allows students who desire to pursue that trac to do so,” Ihekweazu said. “Those who do not will simply obtain or pursue their regular civil engineering degree program.”

The dean noted that the Society for Fire Protection Engineers defines FPE as “the application of the principles of engineering and science to protect people and their environment from destructive fire. Fire Protection Engineering includes analysis of the hazards, mitigation of fire damage by proper design, construction, and arrangement of buildings, materials, structures, industrial processes, and transportation systems. It also includes design, installation, maintenance of fire detection and suppression, communication systems, post-fire investigation and analysis.”

“SC State University is the only publicly assisted university in the State with this option,” Ihekweazu said. “The program will seek ABET ( Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) accreditation when it has its first graduate in line with ABET guidelines for accreditation.”

To learn more about the fire protection option, civil engineering or any of SC State’s STEM-T programs, contact Dr. Stanley Ihekweazu at or 803-536-8860.

To apply for admission to SC State, visit the university’s website at and click “Apply” at the top of the page.

Media Contact

Sam Watson
Director of University Relations
South Carolina State University
803-747-1223 (Cell)

About South Carolina State University

Founded in 1896 as a land grant institution with a mission of providing service to the citizens of the state, South Carolina State University has evolved from a small teachers’ college into a major University center of learning and research. Located in Orangeburg, S.C., South Carolina State offers more than 50 different fields of study on the undergraduate and graduate levels. South Carolina State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Council of Graduate Schools.

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Sam Watson
Director of University Relations | | 803-533-3603 (Desk) | 803-747-1223 (Cell)