Fire Research Group launched to explore effective engineering solutions for uncontrolled wildfires

By Jessie Ying

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Tarek Zohdi, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the Fung Institute, has led the launch of the Fire Research Group ( recently to develop and implement more effective engineering solutions for uncontrolled wildfires. The group is a collective of researchers from the College of Engineering, the Space Sciences Laboratory (Berkeley) and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. Together, they bring a wide range of expertise in engineering science, environmental science, policy, management, ecology and forestry to bolster research in fire science, mitigation, suppression, management and control. Their objectives are:

  • To harness modern technology and engineering science
  • To develop long-term planning strategies and near-term solutions
  • To develop on-demand rapid solutions for firefighting in real time
Visit the website at

Their goals involve several areas of engineering technology, including:

  • Telecommunications and data assimilation
  • Combustion: pyrology, toxicology, fire retardant design, etc.
  • Large Equipment: water and human transport, etc
  • Computer vision, infrared technologies, etc.
  • Fire-fighter (carry-on) equipment: cameras, gas sensors, etc
  • UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles), robotics, etc.
  • Real-time modeling and simulation and on-demand prediction
  • Health issues and epidemiology
  • Post-disaster cleanup, detoxification and remediation
“Uncontrolled wildfires are a growing problem that will continue to vex countries around the globe and drain their resources. California is at the epicenter of this massive problem. If this problem is ever to be managed effectively, harmonization of modern engineering technology and environmental science is going to be needed,” said Tarek.

As the mission of the Fung Institute is to transform engineers into future leaders, we believe our Master of Engineering (MEng) students should be familiar with social issues like this and lead the way in developing technical innovations to address these problems.

“The Fung Institute is proud to be a member of the Fire Research Group. Preventing and controlling wildfires is a major need and we believe we can contribute to the exciting work being done across the University. Solving this problem will require both technology and leadership to make the necessary changes in society, totally aligned with our mission. We know that our undergraduate and graduate students will use their leadership skills to make a difference,” said Wayne Delker, Executive Director of the Fung Institute.

In the future, the Fung Institute hopes to get students involved in the group by creating Capstone projects about the related technologies. And more broadly, Tarek welcomes all students on campus, from all levels and majors, to get involved.

Interested UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students should contact Tarek at