Pyrotechnician

Qualifications

A-levels

Physics, Chemistry and Maths

Degree

Physics with Study in Continental Europe (University of Bristol)

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Matthew manages professional firework displays and stage pyrotechnics.

“Every show is different. I’ve worked with audiences from 20 up to 200,000 people, and I’ve even worked with a full orchestra. I run a lot of shows at science festivals, and teachers started asking me to run sessions in their schools. It was obvious that there was a demand, so now I also run school workshops on firework science.

“The skills that I learnt from studying physics have been incredibly useful. To plan the best shows, you need to know how fireworks and pyrotechnics work, which means you have to understand forces, energy transfers, combustion, light and so on. You need to be very analytical and your attention to detail must be second to none. The timing is critical, and I have to plan for all sorts of possibilities – such as wind or rain. It’s a live performance that can’t be rehearsed, so everything must be planned down to the last detail.”

Matthew also works in science communications, including presenting educational TV programmes and voiceover work.

“I love the variety of my work. One day I might be in the studio recording voiceovers, the next outside in the rain running a live show.  The stuff I learnt during my degree has taken me in all sorts of directions - I’ve also worked for the Intellectual Property Office and as a teacher. Physics really isn’t a subject that takes you down a narrow pathway. The combination of technical knowledge and analytical thinking can open a lot of doors.”

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