Trace-evidence examiner training

Fully funded training opportunity from the Hooke College Forensic Microscopy Training Delivery Program and the National Institute of Justice

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Through a cooperative agreement between the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and Hooke College of Applied Sciences (HCAS), 232 trace evidence examiners will have the opportunity to be trained in 16 forensic-science related courses over the next two years. The program began in February 2011.

Hooke College of Applied Sciences, the education division of The McCrone Group, offers expert-led forensic courses and provides students with hands-on experience in materials analysis techniques using state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation.

The Hooke College Forensic Microscopy Training Delivery Program (FMTDP) funded by the NIJ will cover all student expenses, including tuition, travel and accommodations. The program approval for the next two years comes at the successful completion of a similar NIJ award given to HCAS in 2008. By the end of 2012, Hooke College will have trained more than 400 trace evidence examiners.

The Hooke College FMTDP is one of the nation’s only continuing education programs to offer American Board of Criminalistics approved hands-on training and education for forensic trace evidence examiners. The FMTDP emphasizes sample preparation, microscopical characterization and identification, instrumental analysis and practical application.

The following 16 training courses will be offered as part of the Hooke College FMTDP:

General Microscopy Courses Trace Evidence Courses

Modern Polarized Light Microscopy

Scanning Electron Microscopy

Infrared Microscopy (FTIR)

Raman Microspectroscopy

Advanced X-Ray Microanalysis of EDS

Advanced Imaging Techniques for Scanning Electron Microscopy

Sample Preparation: Forensics and Trace Evidence

Microscopical Examination of Forensic Trace Evidence

Hair Comparisons

Fiber Identification

Forensic Soil Examination Part 1

Advanced Forensic Soil Examination Part 2

Forensic Paint Identification and Comparison

Identification of Building Materials

Microscopical Examination of White-Powder Unknowns

Gunshot Residue Identification

All the program courses incorporate a "Web-Classroom-Web" blended learning approach. This model encourages self-directed learning with a format that is tailored to strengthening critical thinking skills by combining classroom instruction and distance learning. The NIJ considers these skills to be critical components to the ongoing instruction of forensic personnel.

Each course starts with web-based material prior to the course introducing students to a virtual version of the microscope that will be used in class. A review of general concepts and vocabulary ensures that students from a range of experience levels will be ready to take full advantage of the instructor-led classroom sessions.

The hands-on classroom/laboratory portion of the courses range from 3 to 4.5 days and provides students with access to state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation.

Following the classroom portion of each course, the web-based post-course training allows NIJ students to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills in a real-world setting. As part of the post-course component, students are provided unknown samples to analyze back at their laboratory. Students then meet online with their peers and their instructors to review the samples and discuss their findings. These unique post-course sessions foster growth and individual achievement by providing a forum for students and instructors to exchange ideas on forensic techniques and analytical methodology.

“There is a real need for this type of higher level training that is designed to aid in the development of critical thinking skills, where someone needs to make a judgment or a decision as to the identification of the material(s) being analyzed,” said Charles Zona, dean of Hooke College of Applied Sciences. “Students truly enjoy the post-course sessions because they build individual confidence and solidify what they have learned in the classroom setting.”

Instructors at Hooke College are practicing forensic trace-evidence examiners who currently use these techniques on a daily basis and are considered experts in their field.

Trace-evidence examiners from U.S. state and local crime laboratories recognized by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors and NIJ qualify for the program. The first FMTDP class, Modern Polarized Light Microscopy, began in February 2011; the enrollment deadline is 21 days prior to each course with proof of flight itinerary and completed application.

Interested students can find more details about the program, review the courses, and apply at Offline registration is available by calling the registrar at 630-887-7100.


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