Looking for School Advice

Discussion in 'Education' started by goober, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. goober
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    goober New Member

    Hello,

    I am currently a graduate student persuing a master's degree in Geophysics. My undergrad was geology and math.

    The reason I am looking for advice is that I want to design boats. I would prefer pleasure craft as opposed to larger ships. I would like to pursue this career by entering a graduate program that will send me on my way.

    What schools should I look at?
    What are my chances of getting accepted considering my background?
    What do these types of programs offer in the way of financial aid?

    Please help me with these questions and any other advice you would be willing to give.

    Thank You
     
  2. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    Go to www.sname.org for a list of schools and other information.

    You have an excellent chance.

    Office of Naval Research has graduate student aid programs.

    Incidentally, design of pleasure boats is really pretty limiting as a career as opposed to commercial and military NA if you are interested in the technical side of things. They don't have the resources to do interesting analyses, (like extensive model testing) and the design process for yachts is pretty minimal (except for a very few people at the highest levels of racing sailboats, and many of these have "day jobs" in military or commercial hydrodynamics) since most yachts don't have to meet many standards or be optimized in any real way. The potential for doing a lot of interesting work might be ther ein some case, but even then there usually isn't enough money or time to tackle the technical issues. Job opportunities are pretty limited as well - it just isn't a very big industry.

    Most people go into NAME intending to do yachts, then get have to settle for a job in "real" NA, and find it pretty interesting and challenging, and stay in that area. A couple of years ago I ran into a friend who was real interested in fiberglass technology, and wanted to design yachts. Now he is really having a good time, but he is doing cutting edge stuff (can't say details) with submarines instead of yachts, since he "settled" for a Navy job. He is also making a decent, secure living and can afford to buy a house and have a sailboat himself. Another classmate is doing economic/business stuff on tankers instead of designing yachts. He finds it very interesting, is using his maths skills on forecasting and economic modeling and is making a ton of money, so it is some consolation for him
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2005
  3. goober
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    goober New Member

    design

    on pleasure boats for any size who is responsible for designing the cabin and the looks of the boat above the waterline?

    does anybody have any information on this?

    i appreciate the one response already. thanks a lot
     
  4. Tim B
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Tim B Senior Member

    Cabins and interiors are often drawn by interior designers, or product designers. Fairline in the UK employ a team of product design graduates/professionals, purely to do the aesthetic bits of their motor cruisers. Often you find that the hull design is more aesthetics driven (because of what it needs to fit in) than it is hydrodynamically driven. If you are working in a small design team, you may find yourself doing interiors. With modern CAD programs it is not hard.

    There certainly is scope for doing interesting research in small craft design, and it's an area in which there is still a lot to do. There is nothing that says that you can't do well in the small craft world, you just have to be good at the design work. I generally find that those who would discourage people from small craft design are probably from a commercial/naval design background.

    At the end of the day, you have to make up your own mind as to whether you are interested in big ships or small craft. Be very aware of what you're being told at several different universities. I got so fed up with the big-ship attitude that I moved, unfortunately I lost a year in the process.

    As far as research goes, for my own interest (and in conjunction with some recent tank-testing) I am running a series of CFD cases for a hull at different leeway angles.I also have to run the cases at different heel angles and I suspect that will take quite a while. at the current rate, probably until the end of January.

    I am also starting to compare OpenFOAM with my current cfd code (sorry, it is legitimate, but I can't say more than that) and X-Foil, in order to see how close the results are.

    So, there is a lot to get interested in, look at the places that do a course you're interested in and follow your gut instinct.

    Best of Luck,

    Tim B
     
  5. Jollydog
    Joined: Dec 2005
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    Location: MI, USA

    Jollydog Small Craft Designer

    Getting a Masters Degree in NA/ME will effectively over-qualify your the world of pleasure craft.

    I suggest you check out The Landing School in Kennebunkport ME. It is only a one year commitment and can be financed via student loans. The program provides a good overview of small craft design and will give you what you need to get the foot in the door somewhere, or convince you that you want to persue an MA.
     
  6. dgerr
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Location: New York

    dgerr Senior Member

    Some Facts About the Recreational Boating Industry

    Mr. Barry is entitled to his opinion about the recreational-boating industry, but hard facts are the first tool of good engineering. Here are some facts.

    In 2004, in the U.S. alone, there were:

    17.6 million boats.

    $13.8 billion--that's right, Billion--in annual sales.

    This is for boats, motors, and boat trailers, but does not including marina charges, repairs, maintenance, after-market equipment, supplies, etc., which would very substantially increase this number.)

    And, this is only U.S. sales.

    In a word, the recreational boating industry is . . . HUGE!

    But don’t take my word for this. These figures are from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). Take a look for yourself at:

    http://www.nmma.org/

    Go to:

    Facts & Figures:

    http://www.nmma.org/facts/

    You can also read about successful careers in the boating industry in the posts at:

    http://boatdesign.net/forums/showthread.php?t=9356

    and at:

    http://boatdesign.net/forums/showthread.php?t=8894

    As for big-ship naval architecture, the word there is “compartmentalization.” I’ve worked on both yacht and commercial projects. Based in New York, I have also had friends and colleagues at Rosenblatt and at Gibbs & Cox. In ship-design firms like these, the work tends to be subdivided and specialized. There is, say: piping, structure, tonnage, electric, and so on. In each department, you generally work on only that department’s concerns and on nothing else. It’s a very, very small number of designers who actually get the satisfaction of working on the overall concept and supervision of a project--on the big picture. This is quite different than most small-craft design firms, where you work on many assorted aspects of the design and are often part of the entire concept and implementation.

    Positions in big-ship naval architecture are not plentiful. My friends, who worked at these large design firms, did so during President Reagan’s 500-ship-navy build, in the 1980s--a big expansion. When that was completed, these firms dramatically reduced their staffing. There has not been an up-tick in big-ship construction or employment since. There is virtually no non-military big-ship construction in the U.S. If you go this route, you will largely (though not entirely) be working under government contract or in the government or military itself, mostly military.

    In military and in many government projects, you are virtually a slave to Mil-Spec and government oversight. Think Bureaucracy with a capitol B, and Paperwork with a capitol P. Lots and lots of it. There are times when it can be almost impossible to do anything new and creative because it would not meet Mil-Spec or other controlling standards. I remember one instance--on a navy project my office contracted on--when we wanted to make an improvement/modification. Initially, it wasn’t accepted simply because it didn’t meet Mil-Spec. This even though all parties involved in the actual build and design wanted the change. The only way we were able to get it finally implemented--to everyone’s satisfaction--was to have someone dig through many files to find that this improvement had been used previously as Mil-Spec back in the 1940s! It’s acceptance was then virtually automatic.

    There is no good and bad here and no right and wrong. Brilliant hard-working designers are involved in such big-ship and military work. Some of the finest engineers I’ve known made up the principle design team of the project I mentioned above. The question is simply: Is this the kind of work you want to do?

    It is an illusion, however, to view big-ship/commercial naval architecture as being somehow more stable than the small-craft or recreational industry segment. It is also a serious mistake to underestimate the immense size of the recreational-boating industry, as the numbers above demonstrate.

    The links above also give a good idea of what rewarding careers are out there in the small-craft industry for Westlawn graduates. You can also read more at:

    http://www.westlawn.edu/who/testimonials.asp

    Dave Gerr
    Director
    Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    Since Mr. Gerr was based in New York, he only saw a small cross section of other-than-yacht naval architecture. There is a great deal of other work that people not in the industry don't know about. As to interesting government stuff, take a look at some of the websites for commercial/military firms. The "brown water" or "second tier shipyard" industry (tugs, barges, ferries, workboats, etc.) is another alternative and is substantial, but it is mostly not in New York, however, if you like Seattle (for example) … The SNAME "Small Craft" CD (table of contents listed elsewhere on this forum) has a list of papers that suggests part of the scope of work that people do.

    As to the size of the industry, take either $12bn (which includes aftermarket equipment) or $9bn, subtract out the value of outboard motors, materials, and other bought stuff - maybe 50%. This remainder is the labor in the boat. Take 1% or so of this, since most of this value is mass production boats which are designed once and built forever, and that's the amount of engineering/design value. Divide this by about $50 (wages and overhead) per hour or so to get the number of hours of engineering/design. Then divide by 2,000 hours / year to get the number of total engineering design positions in the rec boat industry. If each person works in design from age 30 to age 65 on the average, then you can guess the number of replacements needed per year by dividing the total number of positions by 35. This comes out to about 17 open jobs a year, which is roughly the same number of people who graduate from Webb. Michigan and UNO both usually graduate more, and Mr. Gerr could tell us how many people enroll in Westlawn and how many graduate. (You can, of course make your own estimates for any of these numbers and come up with something else.) A sanity check is to ask yourself how often you have ever met a yacht designer, how many are listed in the phone book, or whatever. If actual working designers are fairly scarce...

    Finally, the idea that there is a huge division between "ship" and yacht is bogus. Look at the resumes of the design instructors at the Landing School to see this. They mostly have degrees, extensive non-yacht backgrounds (and a PE in at least one case). Look at the various job boards, talk to recruiters, and look at design office websites to see what typical qualifications are like. In the past, the situation was somewhat different (though less so than you might think - Skene was a university graduate), mainly because the computer has made analysis and more complex modeling a great deal less expensive, so it is now feasible for yacht design, whereas in the past, everyone only had enough time for a rule of thumb approach regardless of what they knew. It is also important to realize that in many of the listed cases of famous yacht designers, there is a "rest of the story". For example, the late Gary Mull was a Westlawn grad. However, he was also a degreed mechanical engineer/naval architect. Steve Pollard is a Westlawn grad, but he took the course after a long career, including his great book. What does that tell us? - I don't know, but we can't say that Westlawn was necessarily the sole cause of their success.

    The bottom line is this:

    1) A university education opens more doors, including yachts now, than a non-university program. As to an MS being "overqualified" check out Farr's office or Sparkman and Stevens.

    2) You can find a rewarding career in many areas of the marine industry outside of yachts, but a university education is a much better ticket than non-university programs for non-yacht work. The choice is not just government or yacht, and government oriented jobs are not necessarily boring and bureaucratic.

    3) Jobs in yacht design per se are scarce, and the competition is intense.

    3) Westlawn has value, especially for people in the rec boat industry who are not primarily designers, such as brokers, builders, technicians and surveyors, but as a entrance to design per se, it is preferable, if possible, to do a university program, especially since there is extensive financial support available (for example, Webb is free, and there is lots of $ for graduate work). Of course some people don't have that option, and for them Westlawn may make sense. In the instant case that started this thread, the individual in question needs to spend maybe two years at UM, UNO or even UCB and is in position to do so, and can probably find enough $ to cover tuition and some living expenses through scholarships and RAs. He will then have a solid credential and probably a hot thesis that will also help him find a job. Westlawn will take about the same amount of time, and may actually end up costing more out of pocket, though he could probably work full time while doing Westlawn. In this case, it seems pretty clear which way to go.

    However, just as there are "Horses for courses", there are courses for horses, and you have to look carefully at your individual situation. Do your own research, and don't believe everything you hear, even from me -

    "On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog."
     
  8. dgerr
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    dgerr Senior Member

    It’s interesting to read of anything in New York being described as a “small cross-section.” Not, I think, a description most would apply. Mr. Barry apparently makes assumptions about my background. In fact, I’ve worked on the design of passenger ferries, patrol boats, dinner/cruise boats, commercial fishing vessels, and ocean-going cruise liners. The commercial work was for clients from New Jersey, to Rochester, to Puerto Rico, to Alaska, to the Philippines.

    The description of the realities of big-ship naval architecture, in my previous post, reflect not only my experiences but those of many of the individuals I’ve known throughout the industry.

    There is a very good reason that individuals like Gary Mull and David Beach--both university grads in naval architecture--went on to take Westlawn in addition. That speaks volumes. There are also good reasons why designers like Jack Hargrave and Rod Johnstone--to name just two of very many--built extraordinary careers on only Westlawn training.

    There’s little else to say except that Westlawn has produced more practicing small-craft designers than several other institutions combined.

    I do agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Barry: Do your own research. As part of it, be sure to take a look at the record of Westlawn alumni in the boating industry. See:

    - http://216.119.80.31/who/success.asp
    - http://www.westlawn.edu/who/testimonials.asp
    - http://216.119.80.31/gallery/gallery.asp
    - http://216.119.80.31/news/index.asp?displayfile=tradeOnlyWEB_NEWS.htm

    These links speak for themselves.

    Dave Gerr
    Director
    Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology
     
  9. Tim B
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Tim B Senior Member

    This has, interestingly become an argument over some very small points. This is not un-expected, but serves as an example of what can happen. The skill as a designer/manager (ie small craft man) is to lay these problems to rest so that everyone can get on.

    Generally, once you've had a few years out of university (or design school or whatever) it's your record that counts. What jobs have you done, what have you done well etc.

    It is true that you may end up in big-ships or yachts, the design methods are a bit different. The underlying principles are the same though. What is very obvious is that you can "hide" in a big company, avoid dealing with too much management, and do what you want (sometimes). In a small business, you'll do the lot, whether you like it or not.

    It is a big decision, but I think that the key factor is what you will do with the knowledge you've gained from making the decision. That's not to say that you shouldn't change if you think it's wrong later, but I think you have to make what you believe to be the best choice at the time.

    My regret is that I didn't have the courage to follow my gut-instinct first time. It would have saved me a lot of hassle. If your gut instinct isn't pretty close, you'll probably not make a great designer. You might be ok, but design requires a "feel" that can't be taught, a little flair, if you like.

    Tim B.
     
  10. TuckSail
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    TuckSail Mechanical Engineer

    To start off I don't think you can ever be "over-qualified" to design anything. A designer may take his or her design to any level of "engineering" as required by the builder/owner. The more experience an individual has the better their designs will become. Any type of education you can receive will give you an edge up on someone that has none.

    It is my experience that an engineering degree will give you a very good basis to design a product that works, and meets all physical requirements. The Westlawn education builds upon this basis and incorporates functionality, appearance, physical requirements along with a good amount of engineering principles. The great part about Westlawn is that it specifically focuses on Yachts and marine applications. An NA/ME degree will accomplish a similar goal, but most programs go about it very differently. Westlawn teaches self discipline, and allows the student to learn on their own while they are able, and offers help when requested.

    Getting back to the point.... Westlawn has a very reputable name in the Pleasure craft industry. I have been working in the industry for over a year and I have applied my (partial) Westlawn education almost every day on the job.

    There is no right or wrong when it comes to pleasure or commercial/military, it is all a matter of opinions. The only way for you to decide which is right for you is to try them all out and decide for yourself.
     

  11. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    Though New York may be the center of the universe stuff still happens in the corners. There are more shipyards in Houma, LA, much less Seattle, than in New York, for example.

    I am also confused, was all this non-yacht experience the boring and Mil-Spec stuff?

    Also, please note the new listings in the employment section for commercial and naval work. It might be worth looking at some of thisto see what it involves and what the requirements are.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2006
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