confused - in the 10th grade and looking to become a naval architect

Discussion in 'Education' started by grantlen2211, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. grantlen2211
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    grantlen2211 Junior Member

    Hello i am in the 10th grade and looking to become a naval architect.
    I was wondering what the deference between naval architect, yacht designer, and a marine engineer. And i have got leadership skills and i like to be in charge. and am easy to talk to.
    And i know that a naval architect designs boats, yachts and etc. and is a yacht designer just a name for a person who designs yachts?
    Can You please help me with these questions?
    How many years does it take to get your phd and masters?
    I am a bad drawer so do you have to draw alot and if so is it get easy after the first couple of times.
    How easy is it to become one of the best designers?

    Thank you soooo much for reading this post and helping me out it really means alot!
  2. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    Last edited: Feb 7, 2012
  3. mctaggert
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    mctaggert Junior Member

    Good luck with your endeavor
  4. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Some of your questions may be answered on Eric Sponberg's excellent article So You Want To Be a Boat Designer:

    Typical times for engineering education in the US:
    Bachelors - 4 years
    Masters - 1 to 2 years after Bachelors
    PhD - 2 to 4 years after Masters. Generally shorter if the PhD is from the same school as the Masters. Some PhD programs do not require a Masters but then typically take 4 years.

    Have a look at the websites for naval architecture studies at the University of Michigan, the University of New Orleans and Webb Institute. Admission requirements to study naval architecture are very similar to other engineering programs.
  5. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member


    Good for you to consider investigating a career path so early in high school!

    Typically a "designer" is someone educated as a draftsman in a trade school for 2 years or less to do drafting specializing in the marine trades. Now always done on CAD work stations. They create the drawings at the direction of a NA or engineer. Good draftsman though do not have to be stuck in one industry but can usually find work anywhere cad drawings are prepared.

    both NA and Marine Engineer will get a lot of math, and background science education, engineering is more specialized with specific design process like structural design, hull details, materials specifications, systems analysis (mechanical, electrical, navigation, etc), heating-ventilation-air conditioning, etc. Both NAs and engineers can make a living as an independent consultant, doing design work or analysis for a variety of clients, but this takes a lot of experience first. This is how I support myself as an engineer and find it far more satisfying (though more stressful) than working for a large employer.

    Engineering is far less glamorous and often much more tedious work, but it is also far more flexible in terms of employment. The average engineer takes 5 to 6 years to get an their 4 year degree, mostly because it is so demanding. However, good engineers are seldom unemployed for very long (though you might have to move to find specialized work in your area of expertise). Engineering education will also demand the most of you mentally, lots of advanced math and labs. It can be very challenging, the curriculum is designed to force to think in a very systematic and rational way (so it helps if you are already this way, it just disciplines your thinking process). Many people drop out of engineering curriculum because they can not handle the mental discipline, it is too demanding.

    Navel Architects are often shown as having glamorous career paths, the are only a few that really make good money however, because the need for them varies with the economy. There are many NA with very large egos (just like land based Architects, rarely do you see this with engineering types), some are not very pleasent to worth with. Their job is to bring a design together, either as a solo consultant, or with experience you get to manage a team of designers, engineers and the building in a ship yard (if you are good at managing people). NAs can do some of the functions of engineers, but their focus is different, not so much detail design (except on smaller vessels) but putting together the overall design. If they design pleasure yachts only, most of them only do it part time and have to find other work to support themselves. You will find steady employment with large commercial ship builders, but this work is far less satisfying, you just become another employee in for a large industrial employer.

    All of the work can become repetitious, and tedious (true with many technical careers), the pleasure often comes from just being around the waterfront and on boats and ships all of the time.

    I suggest you find employers near you and see if you can get a tour of the their offices and facilities. Keep searching for others in this area of employment and see how they like their work. IT is very time consuming and costly to get an eduction in a top university these days, so it is not something you want to start and unless you have satisfy yourself that is it something you really want to do. You can not get your years and money spent back if you do not like working in the marine industry.

    Good luck.
    bajansailor and hoytedow like this.
  6. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    grantlen, welcome to the forum. So far you have gotten very good advice.

    Like you, when I was about 15 or 16 I decided I wanted to be a Naval Architect. I have been around boats and ships all my life. I never quite achieved the NA, my degree is in a related field, Production and Operations Management, and have an Associates of Applied Arts in Engineering. But, I am 67 and retired and spent most of my life working in the Naval Architecture field, alongside other NAs and doing the same work. Most of my career was spent in the Coast Guard working as an engineer doing naval architecture related work with boat manufacturers. The Coast Guard, the Navy and the Army (surprise) employ many naval architects. So does the US government. But most naval architects are employed by private industry.

    The remarkable thing about getting an NA degree is that this field of engineering is so broad you can end up working in many diverse areas, boats, yachts, ships, offshore platforms, warships, and the list goes on. I have known NAs that worked in the auto and aircraft industry, and as engineers in other fields. So if you do get an NA the opportunities are many.

    You will need a very good foundation in math and science. Drawing is a valuable tool, and can be learned. Take courses in mechanical drawing, computer aided design, 3D modeling and the like. You will need to know how to put ideas down so other engineers can understand them, and how to read blueprints. But you should also get a good education in english, writing, and languages. NAs are found all over the world and speak many different languages. But one of the skills that they really need is the ability to communicate their ideas in words, in addition to communicating with drawings and blueprints (funny we still call them blueprints after all these years doing everything with computers)

    Here are a few books on Naval Architecture. There are many more. Go to your local library and ask.

    Basic Naval Architecture 6th Ed. Kenneth C Barnaby Hutchinson & Co. 1967
    Naval Architecture Of Planing Hulls Lindsay Lord Cornell Maritime Press 1963 3rd (very hard to find but an excellent text)
    Principals Of Yacht Design Lars Larrson & Rolf E Eliasson International Marine Pub 1994
    Your Future In Naval Architecture Harry Benton John C Mathes Richard Rosen Press 1968 (also Hard to find, maybe on Amazon)
  7. DavidJ
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    DavidJ Senior Member

    The difference between the different professions are often confused because some people like the sound of one over the other. A naval architect IS an engineer. However, many "designers" who are NOT naval architects like to call themselves a naval architect. Likewise many people who really are naval architects prefer to call themselves a yacht designer. All sorts of engineers call themselves a marine engineer when they are working on marine projects. However, if you are looking at a job ad they will usually be specific.

    So in general:

    Yacht Designer - This can be anybody who thinks they know how to design a boat. Their education can be anything from the school of hard knocks to engineering to Westlawn. Anything. If you are working on the design of a yacht, you can call yourself a yacht designer. Because of this it can be impossible to tell what an individual yacht designer actually does and what their skills are. Most small companies or one man operations that call themselves a yacht designer do naval architecture type work, often combined with styling and arrangements. There are practically zero entry level jobs for this type of all purpose designer. If a job ad says they are looking for a yacht designer they usually mean a yacht stylist, or sometimes an interior designer. These are the people that come up with the looks of the vessels. Part artist, part salesman, part visionary. These jobs are fairly rare and they usually require a degree in industrial design or a related field like transportation design. For example I was speaking to a lead designer at a very large yacht building company and he said they had 50 naval architects on staff and only 6 yacht designers.

    Marine Engineer - Similar to the use of the word "engineer" with regards to the guy that drives the train. A marine engineer works on a vessel in the engine room. They provide maintenance and keep detailed logs. They are glorified heavy duty mechanics. They wear coveralls. They usually have diplomas from dedicated marine schools, however, some have engineering degrees and there are other roundabout ways to get in that don't require formal education.

    Marine Engineer other definition - Some schools, such as Michigan, refer to a marine engineer and they don't mean the guy in the engine room. This usually refers to the people that design and spec the machinery on board the vessel. The HVAC systems, the main power plants, the generators, etc. There is A LOT of "stuff" on a ship and it can take a big team of specialists to get it all sorted out. Job ads don't usually call this person a marine engineer. Usually they will call it a marine system designer or they will be specific like marine HVAC designer/engineer or marine propulsion engineer. There are really hundreds of job titles for this education. Some have the "marine engineering" degree from a place like Michigan of Memorial University, but most have mechanical engineering degrees as they are similar, but far more common. In a smaller company a naval architect will find themselves doing these types of tasks as well.

    Naval architect - university educated engineer, specializing in ship design and floating structure like oil rigs. Much of the education is similar to mechanical engineering with courses in fluids, mechanics, and materials. There is lots of math and science involved. Some naval architects are generalists, but most naval architects specialize in one of the main disciplines. These disciplines are:
    1) resistance and propulsion - how much power to go how fast, etc
    2) stability - using software to determine how the vessel floats in different conditions
    3) structural design - calculations of required strength and arrangement of stiffening.
    4) outfit - design and specification of the components that make up the vessels. From paint to doors to mooring equipment

    Weight estimates are also an important part of a naval architects job that could fall to any member(s) of the team. Each of these tasks or even several of these tasks might be manageable by one person on a small vessel. However, on a large ship or yacht there could be 10+ people working on just one task. For example it takes hundreds and hundreds of hours of CAD and 3D modeling work to produce the complete structural details for a decent size vessel. Again in a smaller company a marine engineer or a mechanical engineer will find themselves doing naval architecture tasks.
    Have a look at the recent thread for more info about the naval architecture field.

    Drawing is almost completely irrelevant these days for an engineer. I am sure I will take a ton of flak for this, but it is true. Yes it is handy to be able to jot down an idea for somebody else to look at but most engineers these days draw garbage and it still gets the point across. 99% is straight to CAD. However, drawing is still super important for yacht designers. You can't even hope to get into a decent industrial design school without solid sketching skills and in the industry it is still a main skill to have in order to get a job. If you want to impress a client draw him a wicked sketch of his new boat right in front of him.
    bajansailor likes this.
  8. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    By the way, you may want to contact the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, usually just called SNAME. They are the professional society for this field of engineering. David is right Naval architects are engineers!

  9. grantlen2211
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    grantlen2211 Junior Member

    woooow thanks guys you have been such a big help
    thank you soooo much
    1 person likes this.
  10. sele
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    sele High School Student

  11. kvsgkvng
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    kvsgkvng Senior Member

    You are mistaken. To be "a designer" you need to envision things and to draw them, either with CAD or by hand. It is not enough to just say that you want to be "a designer." Have you designed anything ever? Do you have G*d's spark which normal people call "talent." Why not to post one of your envisions in this thread? Have you done any DIY projects?
    It may happen you are better off in marketing....
  12. rasorinc
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    rasorinc Senior Member

    Get yourself a grid notebook 1/4" squares not college rule avaiable at Office Depot or similar stores that sell office stuff or school supplies and buy a french curve. You can make those 1/4" squares represent 1' or 2' or even 4' each so at least your drawing in scale. Then practice copying a boat floor plan or side profile. You will learn quick and it is not expensive.
    I still use the above method to draw out ideas and have for 50 years.
  13. mydauphin
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    Buy yourself a jon boat with a small motor and enjoy boating, then a bigger boat, and then a bigger boat. If you have never been a boater, you will not understand the ocean. You learn more about boat design crossing a bay or living on a boat than you will in school for 4 years. Remember people have to live and travel with your designs.
    1 person likes this.
  14. JCL Design
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    JCL Design Designer

    Not sure where you are from but you can look in to the Marine Institute & MUN in Newfoundland, Canada. Both have Naval Arc programs and MI also has a Marine Engineering Systems program. All three programs are well know around the world.

    I see some people have pointed you to SNAME ( but you can also try

    Good luck

  15. grantlen2211
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    grantlen2211 Junior Member

    what is sname and thank you all
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