Looking for NA or marine engineer mentor

Discussion in 'Education' started by kruemt, Jul 14, 2010.

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

    kruemt Junior Member

    Hi,

    I'm a mechanical engineer and I'm planning on going back to school to get a NA/marine engineering degree. I would like to find a mentor or someone that I can speak with that knows the industry and that could possibly help me with planning the path I will take.

    Does SNAME or other societies have a mentoring program? Or do you guys have any other suggestions?
     
  2. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Port Orchard, Washington, USA

    jehardiman Senior Member

    Yes, SNAME does have a mentoring program, though it is more aimed at students and recent grads rather than praticing engineers.

    What path you take depends on what position you want to have and where you want to end up and how many years you want take to do that.

    I will say that small commerical, large commerical, and government civilian are very different in how you set yourself up to get a particular position.
     
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  3. kruemt
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    kruemt Junior Member

    I guess what I'm really looking for from a mentor is a feeling of what the industry is like. More of the day to day work in different areas of the field.

    I want to make the right moves along the way to set myself up for the right position.

    Is there a way of getting a feel for the industry by possibly following someone for day or getting a tour and if so how would I go about setting something like that up?

    I am not planning on going back to school until spring of 2012. So I have time to make visits to different places if I can set it up.
     
  4. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    You still haven't said what niche you want to fill. Getting upward in shipyard management takes an entire different skill set than being a naval architect that influences design...as well as requireing knee pads. Most yards have career days, and what you would actually do day-to-day depends on what position you fill. I've been everything from a tank crawling troubleshooter to concept presenter at Flag Boards to paperwork grunt to computer programer to plan checker to red team member to theoritical hydrodynamicist to making paper doilys for arrangements....if you want the be a Naval Architect you must remember that specalization is for insects. Because the naval architect is responsible for the whole ship, keel to truck, cutwater to dunce cap, the higher you rise in responsibility, the more different areas of ship design come under your cognizance.

    FWIW, you can, as a ME, go right into the engineering department of a large yard. Heaven knows I've trained enough of them over the years. And you really can teach all the basic knowledge of Naval Architecture to a high schooler in a few months, and the advanced concepts to anyone who can handle calculus and Diff Eqs in a year or so. But a degree in Naval Architecture does not a Naval Architect make, nor does a computer full of specalized programs written by someone else. The people who earn the epithet and fill that position posess three magor qualities that cannot be taught, only nurtured,...1) an excellent and ordered memory; because 50% of most design and problem solving is knowing what did, and did not, work before, and the ability to recognize the actual problem that needs to be solved...2) the ability to visualize flow and the magnitude of flow forces, and when combined with exprience, know when a solution is giving a correct or wrong answer (this is especially important as more computer programs are being used as it is usually impossible to prevent all data entry errors)....3) the firm and reasoned conviction in thier own opinion, because as my signature says, it is what they really have to contribute.

    If you really want to be a Naval Architect... rather than an engineer (such as a ME or OE) that works in the marine fields.... and you really want to go back to school to get that degree, then look into Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. However the firm requirements for that school is US citizen, unmarried, less than 24 at matriculation.
     
  5. DMacPherson
    Joined: Mar 2005
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    DMacPherson Senior Member

    Very nicely put, John.

    Don MacPherson
     
  6. kruemt
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: fort walton beach, fl

    kruemt Junior Member

    Thanks for the info.

    I haven't said what niche I want to fill because I'm not sure, I feel like I have exhausted the information I can get from words on websites (other than forums). I want to see what really goes into some of the areas of the field and be able to ask questions.

    I am interested in fluid dynamics, but prefer the water to the air. That is why NA or OE interests me. I enjoy theory and reseach, but I also like to get my hands dirty. I just want to find a good fit for my personality type. I also want to know where most of the jobs are, what the outlook is for job prospects, what type of money I can make out of college and, when I decide the area I want to go into, what are the chances I will get a job in that area.

    I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I became a mechanical engineer and I found it wasn't what I expected. I want to make sure I know what I'm getting into before I make a move. That's why I want all the information I can gather about the field before hand.

    I don't meet the requirements for the Webb Institute. I miss the age limit by a few years.

    I appreciate you guys giving me this information and I welcome any more insight you guys can give me.
     
  7. DHMzip
    Joined: Jul 2010
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    DHMzip Junior Member

    If you are interested in Design you might check out the Landing School. They have a quick one year design program. This is not a theory based program however, its more a project based course. If you are more interested in fluid dynamics or a more concentrated field, I would recommend calling around to different yards and design offices to see if you could go in for a chat. I am a naval architecture student and do this a lot. (i hope you like sailing because most hydrodynamisists go to work for people designing race boats.)
     
  8. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Petros Senior Member

    You know Krumet, I am educated as a mechanical engineer, and have 30 years experience in a number of very different industries. I have a PE license and now run my own consulting firm. I think what you are looking for is not so much a change in industry, but a change in your work situation.

    I have worked professionally in military and civilian aerospace for very large firms, in aerodynamics, structures and systems, I have work in automotive engineering also for large and small firms, I have worked in various capacities in consumer product design and manufacturing, I have worked in the building construction trades, done civil engineering, water and sewer design, geotechnical engineering and a whole host of other related engineering specialties. About the only industry I have not worked in professionally is the marine industry, but I have been in a number of boat manufacturers plants (as a consultant), and know the owners, and I have built 11 boats, and have my own designs of several others I plan to build in the future.

    The act of engineering is all those very different industries is all almost identical. the intellectual process of engineering is the same in each of these very different markets, it does not matter how "exciting" the end product was, from top secrete military jet aircraft (which I have done), to race cars (which I have also designed), to sewer system designs (which I have also done). The work is more the same than it is different in terms of the day to day job responsibilities. If you are not happy where you are working, changing to another industry with the same work conditions will not make you happier. What I think you need to do is determine what type of working conditions would hold your interest, not what end product you work on.

    I can tell you from personal experience that changing industries is will not necessary change the working conditions. Companies large and small often treat their engineering staff the same way...shitty. I have found tremendous satisfaction in doing consulting work, even though most of the work is in nothing exciting or exotic. Doing a seismic analysis on a building does not sound as exciting as doing a stress analysis on a jet fighter wing, but both can be almost identical in terms of intellectual challenge.

    As a consultant you do not get caught up in large company politics or "company policy", or putting up with some idiot mid level manager, or other chicken excrement. You are paid to do the job, solve their problems, and get out. They are always grateful for the help you gave, especially if you solved their problems in creative and cost effective manner. In smaller companies they do not have their own engineering staff, and this where they need "consultants" as temp help to solve a particular problem. And if you do not like they way they want to do business with you, I have learned to say "sorry, no thanks. I have other work to do and I can not help you with that" (there is nothing I find more frustrating than a client who is bent on abusing my time and efforts, when you are an employee you have no choice). I can now choose what jobs, and what type of jobs, I want to take on. You also do not have that kind of choice when you are an employee.

    It is stressful in a very different way to be self employed, but there are fewer things that I find more satisfying, even if I do not get to work on world famous projects, I find it a lot more satisfying.

    The point is you need to examine your self to find out what working conditions you would find would keep you interested in what you are doing. Sometimes the self employment route is the only way to go. Consider two books that might help you sort out your desires "what color is your parachute" and "48 days to the work you love". You can find both on the internet and in most book stores.

    I think for doing engineering, the working conditions, the intellectual challenge, and the amount of freedom and responsibility you get, make the work more satisfying than what industry you do your work in. Most large companies will not give you much freedom nor leeway, and want to chain you to a desk to sit in front of a screen to crank out tedious calculations (I find that boring, even if I am good at doing it). Being given a problem or challenge, and it is up to me how I go about researching and solving it, is a much more interesting way to practice engineering. Find where can do that, and you will find career satisfaction.

    Good luck.
     
  9. zeroname
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    zeroname Naval Architect

    well said.. thanks petros
     
  10. kruemt
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    kruemt Junior Member

    You make a good point and I believe you may be partially correct. I am currently a systems engineer working for the governement. I do mostly oversight and very little engineering. There is no intellectual challenge at my current position and this causes me to be uneasy.

    That said, I am very interested in fluid dynamics and I have always had a passion for boats or anything having to do with the water and believe that I could be more satisfied with something in the marine engineering field. I think that I could be satisfied with an industry change, but I want a graduate degree.

    I guess I could get a Masters in Mechanical Engineering and specialize in Fluids. Then work in the Marine engineering field.

    Any thoughts? What would the pros and cons be of the 2 different degrees, Marine engineering or Mechanical?
     
  11. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    I would not get a degree that is specialized to one industry. Since I have a degree in ME, I have been able to work in a number of industries. If I had gotten say a degree in Aerospace engineering, I would have learned the same material, but specialized to aerospace vehicles, and it would have been difficult for me to find work in the automotive field, or consumer products, or what ever I choose.

    Your ideas change the longer you live, with a good set of design skills you can work in a lot of different industries, and you would not be limited to just one. And you will never be unemployed either.

    Get the advanced education if you want to, or feel you need it. But on the job experience is always more marketable. More degrees impresses large corporations, smaller employers are more interested in what you can do for them in practical terms.

    good luck.
     

  12. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Ike Senior Member

    You might want to talk to Dave Gerr at Westlawn Institue of Yacht Design, http://www.westlawn.edu/ He can give you some insights into the Small craft and yacht side of the industry. he has done most everything from design to running the school.

    I got started working in a ship yard, as a tank crawler measuring for guages and sounding tubes. I finished my professional career working for the Office Of Boating Safety working with boat manufacturers and builders so they could comply with standards. So there is a wide range of things to do. You first need to determine what it is you want to do. Once you have determined that then the rest falls inplace. And by the way you don't need a degree in Naval Architecture. I started out to get one but a war intervened. I worked as an Engineering Technician, a drafstman and ended up with a degree in Product/Operations Management. I took the Westalwn course for the nitty gritty stuff. So You have a leg up. You already have a degree in engineering. The rest is just remedial.
     
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