Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences
Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences

Arson and Explosives Investigation (AEI) Center for Fire and Explosives, Forensic Investigations, Training and Research (CENFEX)


AEI COURSE OFFERINGS 

All MS Forensic Sciences students in the AEI Option track must take 21 credits of core courses. In addition, these students must also take 18 credits of electives from the courses listed below. All courses are 3 credits.

All GCRT in AEI students must take 6 credits of core courses selected from the list below, as well as 6 credits of elective courses. 

MSFS AEI Required Core Courses (21 credits); GCRT Core Courses (6 credits): 

  • 5013 Survey of Forensic Sciences 
  • 5063 Ethical Research and Scientific Writing (not available for GCRT)
  • 5073 Quality Assurance in Forensic Science 
  • 5613 Criminalistics & Evidence Analysis 
  • 5653 The Law and Expert Evidence 
  • 5963 Forensic Statistics
  • 5980 Non-thesis Creative Component (not available for GCRT)

MSFS AEI Elective Courses (18 credits); GCRT Core Courses (6 credits);
 * = CENFEX certificate for on-site lab

  • 5103 The Chemistry of Pyrotechnics*
  • 5113 The Chemistry of Explosives—On-site lab* 
  • 5123 Fire Dynamics in Forensic Investigations 
  • 5133 Ordnance Identification and Recognition—On-site lab* 
  • 5143 Methods in FEI NFPA 921/1033 
  • 5153 Explosives Research, Testing and Evaluation Methods
  • 5163 Advanced Fire Dynamics
  • 5183 Basic Computer Fire Modeling
  • 5193 Advanced Computer Fire Modeling
  • 5423 Blast Injuries and Effects
  • 5663 Explosives/Arson Laws and Regulations
  • 5713 Forensic Psychology
  • 5723 Advanced Forensic Psychology
  • 5833 Basic Identification of Destructive Device Fuzing Systems*
  • 5843 Advanced Destructive Device Circuit Exploitation*
  • 5853 Basic Electrical Theory & Failure Analysis in Forensic Fire Investigations
  • 5863 Advanced Electrical Theory & Failure Analysis in Forensic Fire Investigations
  • 5970 Directed Readings
  • 5990 Building Construction 

Courses in Development 

  • 5173 Advanced Explosives Investigation
  • 5823 Forensic Examination of Fire Systems
  • 5990 Intelligence Application to Explosives Investigations

 

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

FRNS 5013 Survey of Forensic Sciences
Provides overview of various forensic sciences and their relation to presentation of evidence and problems of law.  Covers major areas and reviews current guidelines for quality assurance/control, and certification/accreditation. 
                              
FRNS 5063 Ethical Research and Scientific Writing
Develops knowledge and skills for ethical scientific research, writing, and presentation.  Covers responsible conduct, organization and design of research around a scientific question, and writing problems specific to science and the individual.  Advisor guidance on some assignments required.  

FRNS 5073 Quality Assurance in Forensic Science
Preparation for the forensic scientist to develop and implement quality assurance and quality control procedures to ensure the excellence of a laboratory.  Covers preparation of laboratory procedures and policies, use of appropriate standards and controls, and validation methods for establishing an effective quality assurance program in the laboratory.

FRNS 5103 The Chemistry of Pyrotechnics
This is a 3 credit graduate level course designed to give the student a fundamental knowledge of the chemistry of pyrotechnics/low explosives that are intended to function as propellants, or generate pyrotechnic effects such as light, heat, sound, smoke and color.  The emphasis will be on the chemical and thermodynamic principles required to formulate these compositions and which determine their performance.  The topics include:  Introduction to Energetic/Explosive Materials, Introduction to Thermodynamics, Heat, Light and color, Smoke, etc.  Additionally, the analytical techniques that measure the sensitivity and the qualitative/quantitative composition of pyrotechnics will be discussed. 

FRNS 5113 The Chemistry of Explosives
This is a 3 credit graduate level course designed to give the student a fundamental knowledge of the chemistry of energetic materials. Included will be low explosives that are intended to function as propellants, or generate pyrotechnic effects such as light, heat, sound and color. The emphasis will be on the chemical and thermodynamic principles required to formulate these compositions and which determine their performance.  Additionally, the chemistry of high explosives and high explosive formulations, and their effects will be examined. The topics include: Introduction to Energetic/Explosive Materials, Low Explosives and Pyrotechnics, High Explosives, Explosive Effects, Field Screening/Laboratory Analysis of Explosives, Assessing Energetic Materials, Initiation Systems, Fuel/Air Explosions.

FRNS 5123 Fire Dynamics
Fire Dynamics will teach the fundamentals of how chemistry, fire science, fluid mechanics and heat transfer interact to influence fire behavior.  The course uses basic level math, chemistry and physics to teach introductory level fire dynamics with an emphasis on how it can be applied to fire and explosion investigations.   Topics covered include combustion and fire chemistry, products of combustion, heat transfer, ignition, flame spread, burning rates, fire plumes, fuel/air explosions, compartment fire dynamics, ventilation limited fires, fire toxicity, introduction to computer fire models and the use of fire dynamics within the framework of the scientific method when applied to fire. 

FRNS 5133 Forensic Ordnance Identification and Recognition
This course provides the fundamentals of a practical deductive process used to identify unknown military ordnance.  As well as the safety precautions that should be applied in order to minimize associated hazards.  In order to address this topic in a concise manner, the course focuses on the identifiable construction features associated with how a munition is designed to function.  Though far from absolute, these features offer a measure of constants often found on ordnance.  Proper identification and adherence to appropriate safety precautions ensure the safety of everyone involved while minimizing the threat and economic impact to the community. [Internet course; includes a 40 hour on-site requirement]

FRNS 5143 Methods in Fire and Explosion Investigation NFPA 921/1033/495
This course satisfies the basic requirements as described in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1033, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator.  Topics include:  Investigative Methodology & Planning the Investigation Legal Considerations, Safety, Fire Science, Fire Patterns, Building Construction & Systems, Origin Determination, Interviewing, Documentation of the Investigation, Physical Evidence Collection, Fire- Related Human Behavior Explosions, Fire and Explosion Deaths and Injuries, Electricity, Accidental Fires Incendiary Fires, Vehicle Fires, Wildfire Investigation, Management of Major Investigations, Practical Exercises, Qualifications for Fire Investigation, Recent Cases Resolved by Science Testing/Case Studies, Emerging Trends in Scientific Testing and Research.

FRNS 5153 Explosives Research, Testing and Evaluation Methods
Covers explosives characterization methods (friction test, impact test, etc.) and explosives range testing methods to include how to develop and document a test plan, test methods and instrumentation (VOD, high speed pressure measurement, high speed video, UN test methods), documenting the test results, writing a scientific or academic paper on the test (suitable for publishing). The purpose is to provide the student with exposure to test methods, the range instrumentation options and their purposes, and report writing, so that the student will be able to competently assist with range testing and be able to create a written test plan, and paper suitable for publishing. This may require students to conduct a hands-on lab at either the IMPEX range or NCETR range to work with the equipment. The rest of the class would be distance, supported by PowerPoint and text to be determined.

FRNS 5163 Advanced Fire Dynamics

Prerequisite(s):  FRNS 5123 Fire Dynamics for Forensics Investigations and permission of instructor and faculty advisor.  Advanced fire dynamics will reinforce and expand upon the fundamentals of fire dynamics learned in the pre-requisite class.  This course will place an emphasis on improving understanding of ventilation effects of fire and on applying fire dynamics principals to real investigations.

FRNS 5173 Advanced Explosion Investigation

This advanced course is designed to teach a systematic method of investigating an explosion scene. The course provides instruction in explosives identification, Identification of precursors, applications, explosives effects, fragmentation analysis, IED component recognition and evidence collection including DNA collection and trace evidence collection and processing as well as the preservation of evidence. The course is comprised of classroom participation, an explosives demonstration and actual investigation of a post blast scene. Will cover different types of explosions (explosives, fuel/air, dust, intentional and accidental) to examine scientific and investigative concepts to provide the student with the framework to competently conduct an origin and cause investigation of an explosion. This would apply to both the explosives and arson tracts. [Includes a 40 hour on-site requirement]

FRNS 5183 Basic Computer Fire Modeling

This course will teach the fundamentals of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) computer fire modeling, using Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS).  Instruction will be introductory level, non-calculus based, and will teach both how to create and run basic fire models as well as their appropriate uses and limitations, with an emphasis on forensic applications.  The course will cover topics such as basic conservation equations; Cartesian coordinate systems; use of spreadsheets to facilitate the creation of fire models; how to install and run FDS; how to write the code required to create an FDS model; techniques for modeling fire scenes and verification/validation of fire modeling use.  The course will teach how to code fire models by hand, but third-party graphical user interfaces will be permitted to be used for assignments if desired.  Students will require a computer (Windows or Mac) that allows them to install and execute programs. 

FRNS 5193 Advanced Computer Fire Modeling

Prerequisite(s):  Computer Fire Modeling I and permission of instructor and faculty advisor.  This course will expand upon the basic computer fire modeling class, and focus specifically on how to create and use fire models to assist with fire investigations.  The class will use Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS).  Topics will include advanced meshing techniques; modeling of wind and other ventilation sources; using model output to diagnose problem areas; how to conduct sensitivity analysis of computer fire model results and discussion of use of fire models in the support of investigations and trials.  Students will require a computer (Windows or Mac) that allows them to install and execute programs.  A Prerequisite will be completion of the basic computer fire modeling course, or for experienced FDS users, demonstration of advanced capability.

FRNS 5423 Blast Injuries and Effects

This course will take a comprehensive view into the nuances of explosive effects on the human body.  Specifically scrutinized will be primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary blasts effects on lungs, the cardiovascular system, neurological functions, integumentary systems, long bone extremities, otic, and ophthalmic.  Also discussed will be appropriate triage measures and means to quickly treat the most serious life-threatening conditions for bystanders that bear witness to on-scene mass casualty explosive events.   Medical case studies will be evaluated that will provide added insight into effects and care for victims of explosive events.  Additionally, the program of study will provide students the opportunity to research a focus area of interest related to casualties of explosive events.

FRNS 5613 Criminalistics and Evidence Analysis
Introduces crime investigation techniques and tools; analysis, operation, and function of laboratory; application of scientific concepts; instrumentation and microscopy; use of physical evidence; and guidelines for quality control/assurance and accreditation in the gathering of evidence.

FRNS 5653 The Law and Expert Evidence/ Destructive Devices Classification
Reviews of ways in which the law, particularly the law of evidence, affects the work of the forensic scientist.  Starts with the beginning of the case, most often the crime scene, and works through the legal process up through trial and including appeals and motions for a new trial.  Covers, at each stage, legal doctrines of interest to the forensic scientist, such as chain of custody, work product privileges, laying the proper foundation, exhibits, and the standards necessary to obtain a new trial.  Destructive device classification, regulations, statutes and case law (under NFA and GCA),  a combination of legal and practical concepts to supporting expert witness testimony regarding destructive device determinations and Daubert standards.
 
FRNS 5663 Explosives/Arson Laws and Regulations
Crimes involving explosives and arson often represent two of the most violent and potentially catastrophic crimes imaginable.  The Federal arson statute demands a thorough analysis of interstate commerce issues, invites great scrutiny of expert witnesses, and requires extensive knowledge of Fourth Amendment protections.  Federal controls over explosives involve not only these and other criminal issues, but include comprehensive regulations governing those individuals who may possess explosive materials as well as licensing, marking, safe storage, and classification of explosives.  The successful investigation of crimes involving explosives and/or arson requires knowledge of this information.  This course is intended to provide criminal investigators with the knowledge required to investigate and solve these crimes.       

FRNS 5713 Forensic Psychology
Prerequisite(s):  Permission of instructor.  Introduction to the relationship between the disciplines of law and psychology by examining and contrasting the issues at the interface of both disciplines.  Covers legal terminology; criminal behavior; ethical, competency, defense, and testimony issues; insanity defense; polygraph testing; and the role and functioning of legal and mental health systems.

FRNS 5723 Advanced Forensic Psychology
Prerequisite(s):  FRNS 5713 Forensic Psychology.  Expands on topics covered in FRNS 5713 Forensic Psychology; also covers function of the mental health professional in criminal cases, nature and impact of mental illness on individual life and freedom, reasons behind crimes, gender differences in the criminal justice system, laws pertinent for mental health professionals. 

FRNS 5833 Basic ID of Destructive Device Fuzing Systems
The Destructive Device Fuzing Systems is an elective course only open to Masters of Forensic Science, Arson and Explosives Investigation (AEI) program students.  The purpose of this course is to expand students’ knowledge of destructive device fuzing systems and forensic exams of these systems.  The course material focuses on the mechanical, chemical, and electrical fuzing systems of the destructive devices. The on-site instruction portion, which is a mixture of lecture and hands-on circuit builds, focuses specifically on the electronics of electrical fuzing systems.

FRNS 5843 Advanced Destructive Device Circuit Exploitation
Improvised Electronic Devices, or IEDs, have been designated as a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  The U.S. DoD and various members of the U.S. Intelligence Community have acknowledged the asymmetric weaponry as having strategic impact.  This course will examine electro-mechanical IED designs that are found on the open-source Internet.  This course will examine electro-mechanical initiator circuitry form the perspective of forensics.  This course will examine initiator circuit families such as: Timers, Pressure Sensitive, Radio Controlled, etc.  This class will not reference classified material.

FRNS 5853 Basic Electrical Theory & Failure Analysis in Forensic Fire Investigations
Basic Electrical Theory and Failure Analysis in Forensic Fire Investigations will teach basic electricity and basic electrical failure analysis to familiarize the student with how electricity, electrical appliances, and electrical devices can be potential ignition sources in a fire.  Topics will include electrical theory, electrical wiring techniques, circuit protection, appliance protection, identification of electrical melting on conductors, scene investigation methodology, current research topics, and NFPA 921 considerations.  This is a self-paced (3) three credit course.

FRNS 5863 Advanced Electrical Theory and Failure Analysis in Forensic Fire Investigations
Advanced Electrical Theory and Failure Analysis in Forensic Fire Investigations will provide the student with a more advanced understanding of electricity, energy, and power.  By mastering this class, the student will have a greater ability to comprehend electrical failures and explain them to a jury.  Topics include: Electrical Charge, Coulomb’s Law, Electric Potential, Electric and Magnetic Fields, Electrostatic Discharge, Electromagnetic Induction, Faraday’s Law and Lentz’s Law. Transformers, Three-Phase Systems, Motors, Power Systems, and Thermal Degradation of Insulation.  This is a self-paced (3) three credit course.

FRNS 5963 Forensic Statistics
Survey of statistical methodology relevant to forensic scientists. Basic understanding of statistics presented in recent forensic literature.  Hypothesis testing, ANOVA techniques, regression, categorical techniques. 

FRNS 5970 Directed Readings in Forensic Sciences  
Prerequisite(s):  Permission of instructor and faculty advisor.  Provides guided reading under direction and supervision of the instructor; in-depth, independent study on an identified topic relative to the forensic sciences.  

FRNS 5980 Non-Thesis Creative Component in Forensic Sciences
Prerequisite(s):  Permission of instructor and faculty advisor; FRNS 5063 Ethical Research and Scientific Writing.  Provides final-semester capstone experience for the non-thesis graduate student through independent research or project management.  Culminates with presentation of results in writing and in a public forum, which may be via electronic delivery or in person. 

 

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