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The Missouri Miner

Missouri S&T's Student Newspaper
News that digs deeper.

EST. 1915

Pyrotechnics Classes Available to All

Danielle Sheahan

Have you ever wanted to light off commercial sized fireworks, or even make them yourself? If so, it is lucky that this is the only university in the United States to offer pyrotechnics classes which are specifically designed to set you up to get your Missouri Shooting License.

S&T has four pyrotechnic classes available to anyone, and they have zero pre-requisites. They are: Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations, Stage Pyrotechnics and Special Effects, Display Fireworks Manufacturing, and Computer Fired Pyrotechnic Show Design and Firing System Operation. I was fortunate enough to meet with Jerry Viall who is a PhD student in the Explosives Department and teaches two out of the four pyrotechnics classes.

The Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations course is awesome because it is tailored to teach students what they need to know to pass the state licensing exam. If you pass the Missouri State Pyrotechnic Operator Licensing exam you can shoot off public firework displays. How cool is that! Some requirements for the license include being 21 years of age, education in commercial pyrotechnics, the experience of helping shoot off three public firework displays, and passing the licensure examination. The class meets once at the experimental mine on a saturday, and three times a semester on weekends at the Bear Bottom Resort in Lake of the Ozarks. It is expected that by the end of the class you will have participated in four fireworks displays. This class provides both the education and the ability to participate in live firework displays, but not the being 21 part; for that you have to just be patient, eventually you will be of legal age to drink and shoot off fireworks, preferably not at the same time.

The second course is called Stage Pyrotechnics and Special Effects it is taught by [...]. You would learn how to organize and safely implement special effects at concerts or sport events. It has all the hands on a student would want and it is also tailored to pass the indoor display state licensing exam. Please note that the indoor display and the public firework displays licenses are two different things.

The third course is Display Fireworks Manufacturing, and I was able to talk with David Doucet about this class. David is a masters student in the explosives department. He has always been interested in explosives so it was the obvious choice to go to the only school that offered a masters in explosives engineering after finishing his undergraduate degree in Texas. David described the class in his own words.

“Fireworks manufacturing is like explosives arts and crafts along with learning some history of explosives.”

David also explained that the class meets every Wednesday from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. This seems like a long time but the class is pre-scheduled with a dinner hour to hour and a half. It is scheduled this way so that students can have lecture and make the explosive, then eat dinner while their creation dries. Then after dinner every student gets to light off their masterpiece to be graded. Typically the class only has 10-15 students, so watching all of the fireworks is quite enjoyable and does not take up the whole night. Overall, the course is very well organized and there is even an online option for Pyrotechnic Guild International (PGI) members. The online students have to still travel to Rolla for a single weekend to participate in each of the “arts and crafts” to receive a proper grade. If you are interested there is a link to a video created by Steve Hall, about the class at the end of this article.

The final class offered is Computer Fired Pyrotechnic Show Design and Firing System Operation, otherwise known as Display Choreography. In this class students get to create their own pyromusical, a fireworks display set to music. After completing their design, they get to display them at local pyrotechnics club for grading. Jerry Viall stated that past students have created pyromusicals that could easily compete with professional pyrotechnics’ displays.

If you are interested in learning more about the following pyrotechnic courses please contact either Dr. Worsey <> or Jerry Viall <>.

Video Link:

EXP ENG 5512 - Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations

EXP ENG 5513 - Stage Pyrotechnics and Special Effects

EXP ENG 5514 - Display Fireworks Manufacturing

EXP ENG 5555 - Computer Fired Pyrotechnic Show Design and Firing System Operation


Fireworks display coordinated by Jerry Viall, Explosives Ph.D. candidate, at the Bertelsmeyer Hall induction ceremony.


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