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Tech Expo: Projects from the Past Still Making an Impact Today

Past projects from UC’s Tech Expo have or are making an impact for regional companies even today. Check out the list below.

Date: 5/7/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824

UC ingot  

One business is set to grow dramatically thanks to a 2007 Tech Expo project.

Last year, current UC College of Applied Science electrical engineering technology major Eric Diehl designed and made a new kind of fireworks launcher, something that dovetailed nicely with his part-time jobs working for show producer Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks, Inc., of Loveland, and for PyroMaster LLC, a local business that rents fireworks equipment.

And now Diehl, 25, of Bridgetown, who will graduate this June, is in talks with these and other commercial fireworks firms.

He explained, “Currently, there is a hole in the pyrotechnic show industry. This hole has to do with the types of firing equipment used to produce a show. There are currently three methods used for firing a show: Hand firing, analog fire and digital fire.”

All of these methods have drawbacks.

  • Hand firing – using lighters and setting off fireworks by hand – is dangerous and slow paced, though inexpensive.
  • Analog firing, using nail boards and basic electronics, is a semi-expensive way to produce a slow- to-medium paced show.
  • Digital firing, making use of laptops, software and expensive custom hardware, produces a fast-paced artistic show, but is expensive.

“So,” said Diehl, “I designed a universal sequencer that offers the speed and artistic ability of the digital systems with the ease-of-use and safety of the analog systems that could be had for the price of a hand-fired show. It was originally made out of analog parts I was able to pick up at Radio Shack. Since then, it’s become a digital system.”

Since first showing his prototype at last year’s UC Tech Expo, Diehl has refined his sequencer and is now producing version 3.0. He has introduced his product to PyroMaster, the local firm that has since underwritten the improvements to the original design. Diehl is also in talks with Fireworks By Grucci, a New York City-based firm that produces fireworks display for events ranging from the Olympics to presidential inaugurations.

He stated, “I’m hoping to be in production by early summer, and if Grucci should decide to use the sequencer, it could be used at the Beijing Olympics and the November opening of Dubai’s new man-made islands. That would mean I’m going to the Olympics and then to Dubai. If the improved version is ready to go and tested by then, it could even be used by Rozzi’s in Cincinnati’s Riverfest celebrations.”

And the economic effect? Diehl reported that PyroMaster will likely market the sequencer to sell for about $500. While large-scale fireworks producers would add the sequencer to their already impressive tool kit, the sequencer could become the mainstay for middle America where municipalities, park services and even individuals seek a low-cost method for producing impressive displays.

Said Diehl, “PyroMaster is a local firm looking at serving a very large market. With my sequencer, someone like a municipality, a park service or even an individual can put on a great, safe show for a total cost of about $1,500 that replicates on the small scale what the big-time operators put on using hundreds of thousand of dollars for equipment.

“Of the 16,000 legally permitted fireworks shows on the 4th of July, most are hand fired to this day. That’s dangerous. Locales need a way to put on a great, digitally produced show inexpensively. In time, hand-fired shows are simply going to be outlawed because of the risk they represent. Right now, there’s no other project ready to fill that niche,” he stated.

Other past Tech Expo projects used by business:

  • A digital video interface for an infrared camera created for L-3 Cincinnati Electronics.
  • A server virtualization project by a UC student allowed Duke Energy to push services of many servers to one physical hardware box, thus decreasing costs and increasing the efficient use of hardware resources. Projected savings of the project was set at $200,000 over five years.
  • A laser-pulse primary machine access controller developed for Cincinnati, Inc.


UC’s 2008 Tech Expo at a glance

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday, May 22, 2008

Where: Duke Energy Center, 525 Elm St., Cincinnati OH 45202

Admission: Free and open to the public

To partner with UC’s College of Applied Science, contact
Allen Arthur, Associate Dean
UC’s College of Applied Science

Other UC research partnerships
Sandra Degen, Vice President
UC Office of Research

  • Return to main Tech Expo feature.