Collin van Uchelen
Collin van Uchelen, Ph.D., is a Community Psychologist, Conceptual Artist, and Pyrotechnician-in-training based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Collin’s work is informed by his own experience of sight-loss from a degenerative blinding eye disease. His work in the pyrotechnical arts explores techniques for translating the light of fireworks into non-visual forms, such as descriptive words, sounds, and textures. Currently, he is choreographing a pyro-musical display from his unique position as a blind pyrotechnical designer.
Jesse Veverka was trained as an aerospace engineer and worked as a financial analyst on Wall Street before co-founding his own media production company, Veverka Bros. Productions LLC, with his brother Jeremy. He has worked and lived throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, China and Indonesia. He has spent the last seven years filming the Passfire fireworks series in 25 countries on six continents.
Ellen Webb is a retired Critical Care nurse who, until very recently, always admired all things pyrotechnic from afar. When her husband successfully battled cancer, they decided it was time to start doing things they had always wanted to do. So in 2017, they went to their first PGI Convention, and a shell-building class was all it took to firmly set the hook. Ellen returned home from PGI with a thumb drive full of pyro literature, 150 pounds of chemicals, and had a cement mixer on order. At the 2018 Convention Ellen entered 4 shells constructed with the same techniques to be taught in the class into Aerial Level 4, and was awarded 2nd Place. Her pyro interests include star rolling and Japanese-style ball shells.
Jim Widmann is a long-time fireworks enthusiast and professional. Jim has shot shows for most of the fireworks companies in the Northeast US and in 1985 started a fireworks display company based in Connecticut. He was a founding member and president of the Connecticut Pyrotechnics Association.
As a kid, July 5th was Jim’s favorite day of the year because he would find leftover dud fireworks from the neighborhood displays and cobble them together into something new and of his own making. Jim is a 30+ year member of the PGI and has competed and won in many of the display shell categories. He has a CT display operator’s license and is also licensed in CT as a pyrotechnic manufacturer. Jim is widely known as the inventor of the WASP automatic shell pasting machine and has sold hundreds of these machines in over 22 countries. In recent years, Jim has successfully built and shot world record shells (up to 62”) in North America and the Middle East.
Steve got his start pyrotechnically as a boy when he and his brother Bob used to mix and burn whatever they could get their hands on. This included toy caps, ammonium nitrate from the local citrus farmers, calcium hypochlorite tablets for the Doughboy pool, and sulfur from the Gilbert chemistry set. Steve had a lot to learn back then… Eventually, he acquired a copy of Weingart’s book, discovered American Fireworks News and then the PGI. Steve’s fireworks got a little bit better. In 1988 he had the crazy idea of starting a pyro club in the western USA and soon after the WPA was formed. Formerly a lighting roadie with some 70’s bands like ZZ Top, Chicago, and Styx, he still works in local community theater as a lighting designer, technician, and equipment fabricator.