EXP ENG 5512: Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations

EXP ENG 5512: Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations

EXP ENG 5512: Commercial Pyrotechnics Operations

Commercial Pyro. encapsulates public firework display design and shooting. Students spend three weekends of the semester with Premier Pyrotechnics Inc. located in Richland, MO. Participants will learn how to design, choreograph and safely shoot a display under NFPA 1123 guidelines.

Instructors: Matt Sutcliffe and Dr. Paul Worsey

Description: Provide participants with training preparing for Missouri Licensed Display Operator (Outdoor) License and advanced lead pyrotechnic operator training. Class work will be complemented by practical training in laboratory sessions, culminating in a full pyrotechnic show, from start to finish. Prerequisites: Both Chem 1310 and Chem 1319 or their equivalent; US Citizen or permanent resident, Successful background check, resident enrollment at Missouri S&T.

Explosives Engineering 5512

Commercial Pyrotechnic Operations

Course Expectations & Information


  1. The objective of the course is to train each individual student to the lead pyrotechnical level such that they are competent and qualified to arrange, design and lead smaller commercial firework displays.
  1. Be capable of working without supervision on large commercial firework displays.
  1. Each course individual to be given the opportunity for an exciting, memorable and one of a kind experience in the hands on training of commercial pyrotechnic devices.


  1. At the conclusion of the course it is expected that each individual member in the class will meet requirements for Missouri State licensing and/or Pyrotechnic Guild International (PGI) certification (with the exception of the 21 age rule).
  1. Everyone in the course will be eligible to obtain a State of Missouri Fireworks Display Operator License upon reaching the age requirement.


  1. Each student has to be 18 years old before taking the course.
  2. Due to ATF requirements each student has to pass a background check. Make sure you have received confirmation of your check from Shirley Hall.
  3. Each student is expected to bring to class safety glasses, hard hat, and appropriate fire resistant clothing (100% cotton outers) plus suitable work boots. Each participant is expected to dress appropriately for inclimate weather outdoors when necessary.
  4. Each student to either pay for meals or make own arrangements.
  5. Each student must act in a safe and professional manner and follow instructions precisely at all times.
  6. Each student is expected to interface positively with the public, show sponsors and the press at show sites.
  7. Each student is expected to attend class in a timely manner and assist in rip down and clean up after shows.
  8. Each student is expected to have a whole load of fun!

Course Make-up and Dates

The course will be comprised of one Saturday session and three (3) weekends (one weekend about once a month). Plus, it is also expected that you will participate in at least one additional display outside of these days.

Class sessions for the course will be held at the Experimental Mine for the first Saturday session and at Bear Bottom Resort, Lake of the Ozarks for the three weekend sessions. If bad weather forces cancelation of a planned event or session, a make-up session will be scheduled.


Student grades will be based on scores from homework and quizzes. Attendance and participation will influence a student’s grade. An unexcused absence will result in a letter grade deduction. Unavoidable absences that are ok’d by the instructors in advance may be made up by participation in additional shoots. Missing more than two class days will result in the dropping of the student from the class.

The grades will be comprised as follows:

Attendance and Participation

Homework Assignments

Quizzes and Tests

Homework Assignments

Due Pre-class

  1. What you expect from the class.
  2. The best and worst shows you have seen.
  3. Assess at least 5 other people’s worst and best shows and determine what makes a good or bad shoot.

1st Weekend Assignment

Fireworks operator licensing requirements

2nd Weekend Assignment

Shell effect

3rd Weekend Assignment

Detailed display plan including design, setup, and execution


Small quizzes will be given each weekend on the course covering the information that has been covered in those classes. The purpose of the quizzes is to enhance the attendee’s attention and concentration in class and to serve as a check to make sure that the students are retaining the proper information.

State Certification (Missouri)

To be in charge of/run a fireworks display in Missouri you need a “fireworks display operator license”. At the present time this costs $100 for 3 years (price not included in course fees). You have to be 21 years of age. The license may be obtained through the state fire marshal’s office. Requirements include: recognized training (this course meets these requirements), taking and passing the Missouri state examination, participation in 3 shoots and ATF license/storage (for possession of explosives). Details on how to obtain your license are given during the course.