Forensic Science Program at East Providence Career and Tech Center expands

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The likely influence of the popular “CSI” television franchise can be seen locally as East Providence Career and Technical Center students have shown a great appetite for the school’s Forensic Science program.

Now in its third year, the Forensics program began with a single section. It grew to two for the current term and will expand to three sections in time for the 2013-14 academic calendar.

“This is the third year that Forensic Science has been offered at the CTC. I’ve now been teaching it for the past two years,” EPCTC Science teacher Keith Martinous explained. “Next year we are looking to have three sections; two of the first year or Level 1 course and one of the second year or Level 2 course. We are hoping to continue to expand the program.”

In may sound trite to some, but Mr. Martinous acknowledged the impact of Hollywood’s recent fascination with the crime scene investigative genre has had on youngsters who’ve grown up watching the programs.

“I think it actually plays a big role, seeing forensics in many of today’s currents shows like CSI, NCIS, Bones, Forensic Files, etc. It opens their eyes to how science and math are used in the real world,” he said.

According to Mr. Martinous, students who take Forensics are exposed to science and technology in that “real world” application. They learn how evidence is collected, stored, processed and analyzed.

“Coming from a science background my focus in the class is on the analysis portion of the evidence, the lab work,” Mr. Martinous added.

The Level 1 section this year covered a wide swathe of CSI procedures, including evidence collection and report writing, fingerprinting, time of death, entymology, blood typing and spatter, counterfeiting, handwriting analysis as well as hair analysis.

With the addition of a Level 2 course in the fall, the Forensics program plans to offer additional content such as DNA fingerprinting, Forensic Anthropology, fiber analysis, glass analysis, and ballistics.

“The program not only allows students to use tools and technologies currently used in the field such as Kastle-Meyer presumptive blood tests, fluorescent and magnetic powders for fingerprinting, superglue fuming, forensic comparison microscopy and gel electrophoresis, but it also exposes the students to individuals currently working in the field,” Mr. Martinous said.

As part of the instruction this term, active law enforcement detectives and fingerprint experts have made presentations to the Forensics students. As the program expands, Mr. Martinous is hoping to convert a vacant green house on the EPCTC grounds into a mock crime scene facility.

With the program’s growth, Mr. Martinous has honed his teaching skills as well. Last summer, he participated in a week-long training seminar in Scotia, N.Y., presented by Bud and Patty Bertino, the authors of “Forensic Science: Fundamentals and Investigations,” the core text used in Mr. Martinous’ class.

Over the upcoming break, Mr. Martinous is headed to Syracuse University as part of the SUPA (Syracuse University Project Advance) program to receive training to become an adjunct professor. In the future, EPCTC students will be able to enroll in the SUPA forensic course locally and upon completion will receive a Syracuse University transcript with four credits.

In addition the EPCTC is looking to form an articulation agreement with New England Institute of Technology in which students who complete the program can receive credit at that school.

Of note as well recently from the Forensic Science program, three students earned an award at the annual SkillsUSA state competition. Steven Rego, Arianna Zakrzewski, and Chianne Morales picked up a Bronze Medal for their efforts during the Crime Scene Investigation competition. The prize included a $500 scholarship to Johnson & Wales University.

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