Paul Worsey: Not your average Joe Blow

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On September 20, 2005

UMR connection: Professor of mining engineering, explosives expert.

Claim to fame: Teaches the world’s only for-credit class in pyrotechnics and started the first college commercial demolition class in the United States.

Favorite explosive: RDX, “the explosive component of C4 and many other military explosives.” (He loves it so much, his license plate reads “RDX-HMX” – HMX being his second favorite explosive.)

Lights up the skies: Worsey works with UMR’s Society of Explosives Engineers to put on fireworks displays at UMR football games, the annual Block Party, and other university and student functions, as well as for events across the state. He has fun setting up and shooting numerous fireworks displays in St. Louis over July 4.

License to pyro: Worsey holds state display fireworks and special effects licenses.

Light His fire (cracker): Worsey lit his first firecracker in kindergarten, “and made my first in sixth grade. Nobody would sell us any potassium nitrate to make black powder so we checked out the periodic table, figuring it had to be good for something (otherwise the chemists wouldn’t use it). We found sodium had roughly the same properties as potassium, so we went off and purchased sodium nitrate instead with no problem. The rest of the ingredients were charcoal and sulfur powder.”

How did it work? “Worked great! Just goes to prove that chemistry has its uses.”

What lights his fuse: “Watching the expression on people’s faces when I blow their hair back and their hats off during one of our countless high explosives demonstrations.”

Why he loves to teach: “Don’t know. Never thought about it, just do. Like Nike says, ‘Just do it!’”

Favorite superhero: Wyle E. Coyote.

Awe-inspired by: The power of explosives.

A lot of people don’t know that UMR… is the university to come to for an explosives education.

Latest hot idea: Creating an explosives engineering minor at UMR.

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On September 20, 2005. Posted in Fall 2005, Features