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Author: Subject: Making a living out of energetic materials
nitro-genes
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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 10:50
Making a living out of energetic materials


Despite working in a completely different research field, energetic materials have continued to fascinate me for as long as I can remember. Obviously, some people here on sciencemadness seem to make a living out out of pyrotechnics or otherwise energetic material related research and sometimes I'm toying with the idea of switching to a similar line of work. It would be interesting to actually hear some experiences how people got enrolled in this line of work, work experiences and educational background.

Ideally, one would have a great idea and make it into a business. But where to start? What kind of job descriptions are available in this field? What would be relevant licenses needed? Who to talk to?

Sharing some experiences of people working in this field may be interesting. :)

(Maybe this is more of a whimsy topic, but interesting nonetheless)
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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 10:53


What country?



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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 10:57


Europe is enough ?
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nitro-genes
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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 11:21


The Benelux union, which is a rather small set of countries in Europe. Opportunities here seem rather limited, although I've no idea if and/or how much EM research is performed here by the department of defense for example. Another consideration is the fact that any EM synthesis here is strictly forbidden by law, so even mentioning you are somehow familiar with nearly everything thinkable in the field of EM would certainly raise some eyebrows, even if most came from literature or was always performed on a very small scale and without endangering others. :) Showing interest alone would likely hardly qualify you for any EM related job, so where to start? This is why it may be interesting to here how other people got involved.

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Rosco Bodine
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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 11:48


The dilemma of knowing things you are "not supposed to know" :o ....what to do ...what to do :D You can tell the "aware" by the look on their face....it is that gleam in the eye ...look, there's another one .....better report this to headquarters right away ;) You know you have some explaining to do, for having seen things that are not to be seen.

Sheesh, I didn't know she was only 15, she looked 19 to me :D
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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 12:03


Haha, seriously though it's more of a pott-odds than paranoia idea, unlikely direct gains, potentially a lot to loose, how unlikely this scenario may be ;)

[Edited on 6-1-2016 by nitro-genes]
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Rosco Bodine
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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 12:21


Truth is stranger than fiction ....
but ....Judge, the young girl was an emancipated minor :D

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKVb_Q1O9H4

<iframe sandbox width="640" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/FKVb_Q1O9H4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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Bert
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6-1-2016 at 14:19
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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 14:27


As far as seeing work in energetics, there are multiple branches of the arts. Civil, ranging from consumer/display fireworks through mining and construction explosives, on to aerospace and other high tech applications.

Military is also out there, along with tangentially involved disciplines such as forensics, emergency planning...

What interests you?

I landed in display fireworks, basically by showing up and looking interested. And being willing to do a lot of heavy lifting in return for learning the craft.




Rapopart’s Rules for critical commentary:

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Anatol Rapoport was a Russian-born American mathematical psychologist (1911-2007).

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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 14:31


Ok, I know one example of a guy who worked as a researcher in this field by starting as an intern. I believe he did not mention his prior knowledge gained from his own experiments, certainly not at first. But he obviously benefitted from it. But he is also an extremely clever, hard working individual with a great personality and he would undoubtedly have done well regardless.

I also recently noticed that one of the professors that worked at the university I studied chemistry at published a few nice papers on pyrotechnic related subjects (specifically strobe compositions), so apparently that is also a possible route to get involved. His leads a research group that studies luminescence of inorganic solid materials.

Both people are in the Benelux.

I believe it is primarily important to have the right skills and educational background. It also helps if you are early in your career or have worked on at least tangentially related things. Your passion and own experimental experience may work in your advantage if you are lucky, but you obviously have to be very careful. By itself, it is not enough to find a job in this or any other field. I would not mention it unless you are certain that it is not going to work against you. There are definitely people working in this field that have a similar 'amateur' background, but certainly not all of them.

Don't worry about licences. Your future employer will take care of then if needed. You should expect an extensive background check of course.

If this is your passion, go for it. You'll never get that dream job if you don't try.




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[*] posted on 6-1-2016 at 17:43


I am currently working towards a major in Chemical Engineering, after I have that degree I'm thinking of possibly adding a minor in explosives to that through programs offered by various universities. I think it may make me more a more marketable engineer, besides being an interesting field. It just depends on where I am in life at that point, since I'm only in my first year, I very well could decide to for something different from chemical engineering.
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[*] posted on 7-1-2016 at 08:57


Quote: Originally posted by nitro-genes  
Haha, seriously though it's more of a pott-odds than paranoia idea, unlikely direct gains, potentially a lot to loose, how unlikely this scenario may be ;)

[Edited on 6-1-2016 by nitro-genes]


It was meant as good humored kidding about the dilemma because I very much do understand the unique perspective for having dealt with "sensitive" information that one is not having any "good explanation" as would be needed to satisfy an "official inquiry" about the particulars ......who have a "curiosity killed the cat" sort of cat cemetery enterprise ongoing.

The irony is delicious and you do have my sympathies because I share that life experience and not just about knowledge of energetic materials but a few other categories of "forbidden knowledge".

Sometimes I have laughed out loud musing .....

"Eve, those are mighty fine apples, I'll have a bushel of those" and now I am in a real pickle with "apple indigestion" :D
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[*] posted on 7-1-2016 at 09:03


I live in Belgium...so here are some ideas...
-Army (Belgian Royal Military School) do search in the field as terrorism risk and is consulted by forensic labs.
-Aerospatial societies.
-Fabrique Nationale (FN) for weapons in Liege.
-Powder and propellants societies (there is one in Belgium and also some in the Nederlands)
-Klapote lab in Germany, but it is a little further ;)
-Pyrotechnic societies




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Rosco Bodine
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[*] posted on 7-1-2016 at 09:19


There is of course the "secret handshake" among all of us who have signed the "confidentiality agreement" under no duress of course. ;)
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[*] posted on 7-1-2016 at 13:37


Nice going Bert, shows interest goes a long way. I think many people are applying for jobs that fit, instead of looking for the job that they are really interested in. With the increasing ban on consumer fireworks in many European countries this is likely a growing buisness also. Was already under the impression you were professionally involved in pyrotechnics. Would be interesting to hear what a typical day looks like as a pyrotechnician. Do you guys make all the shells etc yourself for example? Apart from arranging, setting up and organizing, does it also involve a creative part of exploring new effects?

Just interested in knowing what might be out there and how others got there. Just orientating a bit, for which SMDB seemed a logical place. :) Can imagine this is something more hobby enthusiast here might have wondered about, so there it is. My personal interest would be more towards direct research into EM's, although I realize this is still a very general interest. And indeed, depending on the job description, background will also matter of course. Civil use of EM's, like in mining or demolitions involve EM's, though mainly as "a means to" and presumably require at least some knowledge on structural engineering for example, while many applications of EM's like shaped charges, explosive welding, etc rely on expertise in mathematics, hdyrodynamics and computer modeling. I'm not aware of more than 1 company in this field over here anyway. That being said, I've known several people that made similar 180 deg job switches, which I very much respected, since it is so easy to stay within ones comfort zone and determination and enthusiasm can be a big help there.

Joining any amateur society is risky in itself, especially in these times. One of the founders of the largest pyrotechnical society over here was arrested for storing huge quantities of weapons, ammunition and "live" compositions in his home putting countless other in danger as well as crippling the image of amateur enthusiasts. Then again, there may be no distinction by law between producing 1 gram or 1 kg of explosive material.





[Edited on 7-1-2016 by nitro-genes]
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[*] posted on 7-1-2016 at 21:07


Primarily, outdoor display work as done in the USA is sales, planning, choreography, logistics, setup and execution of displays.

No, we don't get to make very much of what we use ourselves anymore- A few types of work, mostly special effects and video/movie effects are often custom, done on site and to order still. But the bulk of materials can't be cost effectively made in USA or EU, or most other places outside of Asia.

Besides of a small percentage of the total comprising devices used by companies specializing in stage, theatrical and special effects (which must be extremely dependable and precise), 90% + of all consumer and display fireworks (by weight) are probably now made in China, with a bit of that spun off or sub-contracted out to Vietnam, India or wherever labor is even cheaper than China.

We do go to Asian factories regularly to look at what they are doing, and occasionally demonstrate or help prototype what we want. I have had hands on experience in making virtually everything we import or use, which is VERY useful when trying to get a factory to make what you want, or understand what the "issues" are with their products.

Knowing the theory- chemistry, physics, biology and psychology related to the effects and their perception by audience or camera, as well as the history of the craft is a huge advantage if you don't want to spend your working life just implementing other people's designs.

Don't be discouraged by a lack of professional responses in this thread. There are several other EM professionals slumming around down here, but I am unusual among them as I don't work for someone else's company or a government agency, and have few non disclosure agreements or other regulations interfering with openly sharing information.




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Anatol Rapoport was a Russian-born American mathematical psychologist (1911-2007).

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[*] posted on 8-1-2016 at 13:46


Quote: Originally posted by KesterDraconis  
I am currently working towards a major in Chemical Engineering, after I have that degree I'm thinking of possibly adding a minor in explosives to that through programs offered by various universities. I think it may make me more a more marketable engineer, besides being an interesting field. It just depends on where I am in life at that point, since I'm only in my first year, I very well could decide to for something different from chemical engineering.


Same, after I finish with my college, I really kinda want to go to Missouri Tech to get a degree of any kind in HEDM, or maybe even a PhD if possible, then I'd really want to be a professor in a similar field or EM itself where I can start my own research
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[*] posted on 8-1-2016 at 17:16


Hey, if you get a visa that permits you to work and are expecting to be in the Midwestern USA, let me know. We have work...

We have a lot of stuff going on during what is normally "summer vacation" from college. It IS possible to get a foreign national a letter of clearance as an employee explosives handler, but best to start that process WELL before the clearance is wanted!

You could ask member cheddite cheese about it. He worked with us last summer, did not run away screaming after seeing me in the flesh.




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3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.
4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Anatol Rapoport was a Russian-born American mathematical psychologist (1911-2007).

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[*] posted on 9-1-2016 at 22:15


Quote: Originally posted by Bert  
Hey, if you get a visa that permits you to work and are expecting to be in the Midwestern USA, let me know. We have work...

We have a lot of stuff going on during what is normally "summer vacation" from college. It IS possible to get a foreign national a letter of clearance as an employee explosives handler, but best to start that process WELL before the clearance is wanted!

You could ask member cheddite cheese about it. He worked with us last summer, did not run away screaming after seeing me in the flesh.


Was that for me? I'd be very interested. May I know little more detail about it?

I got a green card in 2014 and I am renewing my green card to permanent so I will be considered a permanent resident where I heard I'd be able to share lot of opportunities and benefits in this country. I think that might help me get a explosive handling licence.
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[*] posted on 10-1-2016 at 20:57


I also have great passion for pyro and energetic since I can remember (kid) and now I have a great interest in professional job in EMs field, and I will share my little experience until now with it.

As a mining engineering student I had a chance to work on a blast site during one of my internships (this one was performed in a small-medium sized chalk mine).

Although I learned many things in field (ANFO making, emulsion handling, loading boreholes, checking blast designs and explosives magazines, etc), I must admit that wasn't exactly what I was expecting, and that surprised me for 2 reasons:

First, because I was working both with the chief mining engineer and with the operational workers that internship was a really HARD job, not something that would give you much health over decades (although I gained some muscular mass), because loading the boreholes with some tons of explosives and setting off under very hot sun every day is high energy consuming and when not doing this we were making tons of ANFO (filling 25kg bags) and filling the explosives magazine for using it over the next days or loading trucks to work on another chalk mine (from the same company) a few kilometers away. Obviously the chief engineer works less in the operational part of the job, but eventually he works, to help the workers in days when there is more work than usual. So, some jobs involving EMs are very energy consuming, specially the operational ones, although I was happy to do that, and I'm grateful to learn several things from that internship.

Second, the rock blasting works can quickly become repetitious, cause in most days there are used the same blast designs and the operations are very similar. So ends that once you know how to do properly in a variety of situations, there will be little job challenges or new things to learn, unless you move to other mines (that have different rock mechanics, and different rock benchs and structures), use different materials (new products),etc

Beside this, I'm still excited in working in EMs field. Hope I can find next internships in another mines or even in some civil demolition company.

When I have my full graduation, I also would like to become a associate of International Society of Explosives Engineers - https://www.isee.org

Hope you nitro-genes succeed and find your place in EMs research.




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[*] posted on 11-1-2016 at 15:07


Hey Bert, can imagine importing these shells is much cheaper due to labour costs,thats why I as asking. pretty much everything firework related here is from Asia as well. Pretty cool though there is room for custom designs and can imagine that some background on effects can be a big help here. Watching some of these shell contests on youtube really blew my mind on how some of these effects are realized, seemingly defying physics. One of the last shows I witnessed consisted of a music assisted orchestrated display, which was new to me, but really added an extra dimension to it IMO. Seemed to be an entirely automated process, so can imagine how much planning and thought goes into this. This being said I must admit I always liked the mystique of the torch bearing figures in the mist, lighting the fuses. :)

Nice to hear Aqua, seemed you did get a lot of experience in the use and manufacture of explosives for civil use, which will surely help with future applications. Wouldn't mind doing some heavy lifting, although for me personally I would have to look realistically on how long it would take to get me there where I would want to be. I heard in demolition you can similarly expect many years of drilling holes before taking on other tasks, which seems logical since these type of fields likely rely for a large part on experience, apart from structural knowledge for example and you only get one shot. Being kind of accustomed to academia, I would lean more towards more direct science and research field.

[Edited on 12-1-2016 by nitro-genes]
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[*] posted on 20-1-2016 at 14:17


I do blasting engineering as a profession. you can message me if you have any questions...
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