In the nation’s only pyrotechnics course offered for college credit, UMR students are lighting up the skies with fireworks displays at football games and other public events throughout Missouri.
The class’s next display — and most extravagant — will take place at the "KUDL Christmas in the Sky" on Nov. 26 at Longview Lake and Beach near Lee’s Summit, Mo. The UMR pyrotechnics class, Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations, is responsible for 75 percent of the show’s setup. This will be the second time UMR has participated in this event. KUDL’s seventh annual fireworks presentation at Longview Lake is free to the public and serves as opening night festivities for Jackson County "Christmas in the Park" displays.
UMR offers Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations as an off campus course with students from as far away as New York participating. It teaches safety, design, choreography, permitting and the setting up big fireworks displays. The classes are held three weekends over the course of the fall semester at Premier Pyrotechnic Inc. in Richland, Mo. Working with Premier Pyrotechnics — a fireworks display company responsible for over 2,000 displays in the United States each year — UMR students have participated in fireworks shows all over the state.
Most recently, this year’s class of 29 students choreographed a show for Rolla High School’s homecoming football game. Other displays include a night football game at UMR; two fireworks shoots at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., including one for the Special Olympics. Last year’s class did the Founder’s Day display in Richland, Mo. The class also holds practice shows at various locations throughout the semester as part of the course.
Some students are interested in a career in pyrotechnics, but others are simply there to have fun and become involved in shooting fireworks displays, says Dr. Paul Worsey, professor of mining engineering and course instructor. After taking the course, several students have received summer jobs with Premier Pyrotechnics for additional experience.
"This is the only college opportunity in the country where you can get this kind of hands-on experience in pyrotechnics," says Worsey.