Looking for information on Naval Architecture field and how to transition into it.

Discussion in 'Education' started by kruemt, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. kruemt
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: fort walton beach, fl

    kruemt Junior Member

    Hi, I am interested in naval architecture and would like some information on the field. I have a undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and I'm considering going back to school or trying to transition into the field. I quess it would be easier to specify some questions and you guys can answer them or throw in anything else you feel relavent.

    What is the hiring out look and how hard is it to break into the field?

    Can I transition into the field with my degree or would it be beneficial to get more training?

    I am interested in hull design. I very much enjoyed all gas and fluid dynamic courses. Is getting into hull design possible?

    What is a typical day like for a naval architect?

    Thanks. I'm just trying to get a feel for the field that interests me. Thanks for any advice or info.
     
  2. Scott Carter
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Annapolis

    Scott Carter Senior Member

    I'm doing essentially the same thing. I'm an industrial engineer specializing in automation systems, but have a passion for boats. So I'm transitioning as well. Even as an engineer, I'm not certified to design commercial hulls on my own, regardless of ability. I'm currently enrolled and taking the yacht design course from Westlawn, but even this will give me just the training (knowledge, familiarity, procedures, etc.) for small craft design. I chose this route because I wasn't available to re-enroll in university to gain an N.A. degree, nor did I feel that it was necessarily necessary (??) for me in order to go into yacht design (sailboats are my passion). It is an excellent course, though I'm only in my first quarter. But I already see that I'll be well equipped to begin a career in yacht design once completed. I haven't completely ruled out going back to get my NA degree, but I couldn't handle both at the same time (still gotta go to work every day). I decided on Westlawn because I didn't sense a very good prognosis for employment in the field of boat design without some form of formal education or training or practical experience in it to start off. There are large ship design firms who have mechanical engineers on staff with no NA expertise, but they design sub systems or mechanical components of the ships, but not the hull form itself.
     
  3. kruemt
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: fort walton beach, fl

    kruemt Junior Member

    I think you've done a little more research on this than I have. I'm just starting to crack the surface. I'm trying to get a feel for the field. Do you have any idea how the NA job market is? I have looked on monster and usajobs, but have only found a few NA jobs posted. Are there other websites that will give a better picture of the career oportunities in the field? I wasn't even aware that you needed to be certified to do hull design. Who is the certification granted by?
     
  4. DavidJ
    Joined: Jun 2004
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    Location: Canada

    DavidJ Senior Member

    Hello. I graduated in May 2008 in naval architecture and am currently working in the field.

    Both the ship and yacht design industries were hit fairly hard by the economic collapse. Many contracts were canceled. Some smaller shipyards have gone out of business. However, having said that there still seems to be a fair bit of work out there. Governments are still ordering ships and there is always a need to repair and refit vessels. We have all had some stress but the people I know in the industry are all still employed.

    You will rarely ever see naval architect job ads in the usual places like monster. Even when the industry was booming there were very few ads to be seen. In the whole scheme of engineering it is still a very small industry. You will sometimes see jobs listed on company websites but the best way to get hired appears to just be to try contacting the places that interest you.

    rigzone is good for oil industry jobs and SNAME is also a good resource. RINA is good for UK jobs.
    http://www.rigzone.com/
    http://www.sname.org/
    http://www.rina.org.uk/

    Some others for smaller craft would be professional boat builder magazine, http://www.careerboat.com/ and http://www.proboatjobs.com/

    There isn't really such a thing as a typical day for a naval architect. There are many completely different jobs that people do and they all call themselves naval architects. Some make excel spreadsheets to calculate things like weights and centres or stability curves. Some spend lots of time on the phone collecting information from manufacturers. Some do drafting all day. Some work through classification rules. Some do inspections. Some inspect plans. Some do little bits of all of it. Most entry level people do lots of 3d modeling, drafting or weight estimating (adding up ever piece of equipment on a vessel). Places that do detail design work usually need LOTS of detailed 3d design. Designing the structure often takes the most time and/or people.

    I believe you can fairly easily transition into naval architecture from mechanical engineering. It really depends on what company you are at and what you mean by naval architecture. Most naval architecture work is engineering work and most engineers of any discipline can probably figure it out. At a design office it's applied math and creating design drawings. It's bending loads and strength calculations. When you advance in your career you will do more management or quality control work.
     
  5. DavidJ
    Joined: Jun 2004
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    Location: Canada

    DavidJ Senior Member

    I decided to respond to the hull design part separately. Getting into hull design is a bit of a tricky question. I don't really have an answer for it. Before I went to school I thought naval architecture was hull design. I think most of the students were interested in hull design, at least initially. However, nobody I graduated with has done any hull design. None of the other 15 or so people I know who graduated in the last 5 or so years have done any hull design.

    From my perspective it seems that hull design is usually done by one or two people at a company (of between 10-50 other engineers). So it only takes one guy to design a new hull and then it takes 10 or more other people to design the rest of the vessel. The larger or more complicated the vessel the more people you need, but the hull is still done by one guy. This makes it tough to crack into the hull design field. Compounding matters is the fact that often the same hull will be used on many different boats. So there might be lots of work required to rework the deck arrangement and reinforce structure for new loads, run new piping, calculate new weights, etc but no new hull design work was needed.

    The hull designer is probably a genius at Rhino or autoship or maxsurf or some other hull form software. Most companies don't worry much about fluid dynamics or pushing the hull design envelope or anything like that. They make the new hull much like another similar hull they've done before. They make sure the centre of buoyancy matches the estimated centre of gravity and they run some standard powering predictions. The most important skills are the software skills. Producing nice fair surfaces quickly is the key skill of the hull designer. So how do I think you become a hull designer? Practice, practice, practice. And bug the bosses whenever you can to let them know you want to try doing hulls.

    A master's degree in fluid dynamics might be needed to get a hull designer job at the type of firm that is pushing the envelope on hull design. America's cup designers, naval warfare designers, and advanced stuff like that.
     
  6. kruemt
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: fort walton beach, fl

    kruemt Junior Member

    Thanks for the info. It's definitely helping me get a picture of the industry.

    Every time I search naval architecture alot of ocean engineering programs pop up. Does Naval Architecture fall under ocean engineering or is it completely seperate and what is the difference in the type of work you can do after graduation? There aren't too many graduate schools offering NA degrees, but there are quite a few with ocean engineering.

    I do see what you mean David about the same hull being used over and over. i haven't been around large ships, but I see it on sport boats, now that you brought it to my attention. It doesn't seem as though they make changes to the hull very often, but do they have research and development departments that concentrate strictly on researching hulls. I guess this may be done at Universities?

    From what I can find, it seems like it's mostly ocean engineers that do this type of research. Any thoughts?
     

  7. DavidJ
    Joined: Jun 2004
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    Location: Canada

    DavidJ Senior Member

    From my understanding, in North America, most of the Naval Architecture programs also encompass ocean engineering. Much of the course load is applicable to both and there is a lot of work in the offshore industry in the Gulf of Mexico. I'm not sure if this is necessarily true in the UK/Europe.

    This is just my opinion but I don't believe the research is necessarily done by different people as essentially ocean engineers and naval architects start out their careers doing the same jobs. Similarly the graduate programs in North America cover both Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering and the student can choose which to focus on. Whether it is in chosen electives or in their research projects. In my mind a person who experiments with new hull forms would be called a naval architect.

    I like the wikipedia entry on ocean engineering. That seems to sum up my thoughts pretty well.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_engineering

    Memorial University in Newfoundland also describes how their programs are interrelated.
    http://www.engr.mun.ca/programs/undergraduate/ocean_naval/
     
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