Need Career advice

Discussion in 'Education' started by MoranR, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. MoranR
    Joined: Mar 2008
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    MoranR New Member

    Hi, I am a new member and need some help.
    I have lived in south Florida my whole life and am always on the water. I have been interested in boats ever since I was born. I have been around boats that rage from ten feet to 300ft my whole life. Working on and around boats my whole life, I feel as if I have a good background for what I am thinking about getting into. I have been trying to figure out what career I want to get into and think that I have figured it out, but I do not know where to start. I want to go into yacht design and one day design mega-yachts. I was wondering where I would start. Would I be looking into studying naval architecture or what. If you could help me figure out where I would start, what I would study and where I should study it I would appreciate it. Thanks for your comments in advance.
     
  2. MoranR
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    MoranR New Member

    any advice would be appreciated
     
  3. quicksail
    Joined: Jul 2001
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    quicksail Junior Member

    I will try and get this started. I would first ask a few questions that you should ask yourself. Are you prepared to be in front of a computer for the majority of the day? Do you want to be rich? Are you prepared to make your interest/hobby into a career?

    Like many other's in this business I had an interest in boats and liked being out on the water. The reality of it is that most of your time "designing" is in front of a computer in an office somewhere. You could be in the desert as far as yacht design goes these days. I have been out on boats less now than when I was growing up (a harsh reality for some). Secondly, this industry can be very peculiar as sometimes people are attracted to a name rather than the best design. This can become frustrating when starting out as you will most likely have to work under one of those fashionable names until you get either the connections or the experience. Thirdly, being in the industry changes your outlook sometimes of the interests and hobbies you have. It is like going to work from work. This can where on you if you are not prepared. I know several sailors that went into the oil industry as a career because 1) they realized they weren'y Bruce Farr and 2) they needed that disconnect.

    Now in terms of education they are a lot of "self taught" designers out there that make good livings and do good work. Unfortunately they will become less and less as liabilties in the profession increase. I would suggest getting your engineering degree in some sort of field whether it is Naval Arch or Mechanical. With an engineering degree you will have the most flexibility and you will not be faced with reaching a professional ceiling. As an professional engineer you can move from CAD monkey to manager to owner and assume the liabities in your designs. Nothing like having a famous "self taught" design come to you to verify his design because he cannot assume the liability for it. You will also be able to cross the various sectors of the industry without too much trouble. One note of interest. In my breif time in this industry I have notice a lacking in electrical knowledge. Their could be good opportunities for electrical engineers in this industry as systems get more and more complex and automated. Just a thought.

    Now for the final peice of advice. Few people have gotten rich from yacht design. The reality is most professionals are underpaid in the recreational side of the industry. This can be due to many things such as dreamers and self taughts willing to do the work for free or close to as they feel they are living their hobby instead of working in a profession. If you are not a fashionable name than you will be struggling to get connections and experience while waiting for the big payoff. Nothing like seeing your classmates earn up to 4x's what you make becuase you love boats and want to design them. I hope this doesn't discourage you too much but it is the reality of the industry. Education is key in this world as it provides you to assume liability and allows you more versatility.

    Cheers
     
  4. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Ike Senior Member

    I started out the way you describe. As a young man I was around boats all my life. I wanted to be a designer too. But as a wise man once said "life is what happens while we're making other plans" I went to the U of Mich to get a degree in Naval Architecture. After 1 year a war came along (Vietnam) and I ended up in the Coast Guard. To make a long story as short as possible and not bore you to tears, I eventually ended up working as an engineer for the Coast Guard in Recreational Boating Safety, enforcing standards for boat manufacture, which isn't exactly design work but kept me around boats and boat people. I never got the degree in engineering (it's in Operation Management) but I took the Westlawn course and a lot of engineering courses, and still (even though I am now retired ) work as an engineer. So there are a lot of paths your life can take as Quicksail said.

    Do this. Look at your options. Most people who design Mega-Yachts are Naval Architects and work for large design firms like Sparkman and Stephens or Feadship. There are a few in the US that design and build mega-yachts. Burger in Minnesota, or Rybovich in Florida, but most mega-yachts are built over seas.

    Keep working around boats, but do your research. On this site is a list of schools that teach Naval Architecture and Yacht Design. What's the difference? NA deals mostly with ship size vessels, Yacht Design deals with smaller vessel, but NAs do both. Mega yachst are in the ship size category.

    Get good Grades! I can't emphasize that enough. Take all the math and science courses you can. You will need it. NAs need a lot of math.

    But at the same time start talking to boat builders in your area. Go visit some of them. See how it's done. There are about 700 boat manufacturers in Florida from dinghy builders to Betram and Rybovich. Tell them about your interest. Get a summer job at a boat builder if you can. Even if it's sweeping the floor. If you show your enthusiasm and intellect they will soon have you doing other things. Go to the Boat Shows. Look at the boats. You'll get some great ideas.

    It's a hard business to break into on the design end. You will most likely work for someone else at first and work your way up. Eventually you will be able to go out on your own. But you can do it if you plan now, and stay focused on your plan.

    Some things to consider. There are a lot of side businesses in the Yacht Design biz. Interior designers are being employed more and more by volume builders and large yacht builders. Electrical Engineers that understand boat and ship systems are few and far between. If you specialize in this you can work anywhere and pretty much write your own ticket. Composites engineers are also a rare breed, and today almost everything is built of composites (fiberglass, Kevlar, epoxies, all that exotic stuff). Building green or clean boats is going to be the wave of the future. Fast power boats burn fuel like there is no tomorrow. This is a speciallty that is for all practical puposes wide open. There are only a few people designing economical and environmentally sound power boats and practically none on the Mega-Yacht level. (the assumption is rich people have money to burn. sorry for the pun)

    Good luck. Let us know what you decide and come back from time to time to let us know what you are doing.
     
  5. MoranR
    Joined: Mar 2008
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    MoranR New Member

    Thanks for the advised. As a son of a very successful yacht broker, I realize that most and the better mega yachts are built oversees at places like Lurssen. I was thinking about getting my engineering degree and I really want to get my Naval Architecture degree. The problem is that I am at a loss at where to study Naval Architecture. I wanted to study at a University in Florida, but I came to realize that there is not a big selection of schools that have Naval Architecture in Florida. I was curious if I could pursue my career with an architectural engineer degree. Thanks in advance for the advice
     
  6. Scottg4001
    Joined: Aug 2005
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    Scottg4001 Junior Member

    MoranR, I too live in south Florida- Ft. Lauderdale. I have been around boats for a long time as well. I own on myself a 17' flats boat. Anyway, I wanted to get into naval architecture as well. At the time the only local school was The Art Institute of Ft.Lauderdale. But they only offered classes during the day and I couldnt afford to quit my full time job. I am not sure if they even offer the course still and from what I heard you pretty much learn to "draw" a boat. They don't teach you the engineering aspect of it.

    So, I extended my research and found Westlawn. I am a current student and enrolled in Module 1. Its fun and challenging but you have to put time aside to study. I have learned alot and I am sure you have worked on more boats then me so much of the studies and work might come natural. You start drawing right at the very beginning and you learn all the calculations, etc. It looks a bit intimidating at first but once you start you are hooked. I highly recommend this.

    Also, broward community college just opened a marine engineering mgmt. program. It is mostly geared toward the marine service industry. I will begin that in the Fall to compliment Westlawn and to get more of a hands on.

    Scotty
     
  7. Scottg4001
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    Scottg4001 Junior Member

    Also try University of Michigan. Who really wants to be a gator anyway?:p
     
  8. MoranR
    Joined: Mar 2008
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    MoranR New Member

    So I was wondering what all of you think about this. I was thinking about going to Savannah college of arts and design and studying Industrial design and minoring in Naval Architecture. Is this a good direction to go in if I want to design luxury Yachts.
     
  9. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    MoranR,

    It depends on which end of the spectrum you want to design--engineering or art. I have a degree in naval architecture from the University of Michigan, and my son has a degree in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design, so I know both schools. I am also familiar with all the colleges where you can get the naval architecture degree, and a few of the art schools.

    First, go back through the Education thread on this website and read other summaries (mine included) on naval architecture and yacht design education.

    Then go to my website, and read the article "So you want to be a boat designer...."

    http://www.sponbergyachtdesign.com/ArticlesDesigner.htm

    Read the article all the way through so that you don't get discouraged by the beginning. For a list of naval architecture colleges, follow the link to the list at www.newavesys.com.

    For art school, The Art Institute in Ft. Lauderdale has a program in yacht design, and I believe this is mostly focused on styling and design, not on naval architecture.

    Here is an important distinction: A naval architect understands and deals with all the structure, systems, and motion dynamics--the science--of vessel design. He or she may not be fully conversant with the art and style that is so prevalent in modern superyacht design these days. A yacht stylist, on the other hand, is fully conversant with the style, the materials, the features of elegant design, but may not fully understand the science behind what makes a yacht float, move, and hold together. These are two distinct jobs--engineering and styling--and on larger vessels, it is really hard to do both because it takes so much time and effort. Actually, on larger vessels, whole teams of people are employed on both sides of the design, not just a single person.

    You have to decide what type of person you are and go for the end of the spectrum that suits you.

    I hope that helps.

    Eric
     
  10. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Now you have heard it from the best! Listen to Eric.
     
  11. Paulo.AS
    Joined: Sep 2006
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    Paulo.AS Junior Member

    I'll also drop a cent in.
    I had training as an Industrial Designer, afterwards worked for the Gillette Co., then had my own woodworking shop where I worked in conjunction with architects, then as production manager and now am working for the top brand of furniture (home, kitchen, office,...) in Brasil.
    All this experience (18 years total) has basically taught me something about myself: I like to develop products and solve problems.
    Then as life would have it, I started to feel the need for a change in carrer. After some online research I began to lean towards The Landing School until I met a guy at the yacht club who gave me the tip on Westlawn. To me it was the best choice because I could go on earning a good living without having to change my whole life head over heels.
    My point is, as Eric so aptly put it, get to know yourself before you make a choice. Are you more inclined to the art or the engineering? I believe this must be your baseline from which to plan your next move.
    I began with a heavy bias towards art (design) and afterwards understood what I really like - problem solving (engineering).
    So think, research, talk to people envolved in the industry.
    Everything and anything can be useful.

    Hopr this helps
     
  12. AlmostEE
    Joined: May 2008
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    AlmostEE New Member

    Would-be marine EE

    Ike and Quicksail mention opportunities for electrical engineers in the marine industry. This is something I have been thinking about doing.

    I finished a BS in engineering 10 years ago, just 2 classes shy of the actual ABET BSEE degree (took a general eng. science degree instead). I've been doing various IT jobs since, mostly in database programming, so my engineering is pretty rusty.
    In any case, I'd love to hear pointers on transitioning into the electrical/electronic side of the industry. Who, for example, designs/installs/troubleshoots the electrical systems for a megayacht builder, or a production cruising sailboat manufacturer? Or writes code for marine GPS units and tillerpilot firmware?
    I don't have an interest in designing boats---I've been around long enough to grasp the realities mentioned by others! I'm just thinking about a semi-white-collar job with a livable salary that that keeps me around boats & boat people, preferably not ALWAYS behind a computer (e.g. crawling through lockers to troubleshoot a client vessel, testing prototype equipment on the water after weeks in the design lab, or even just "working" at boat shows). Bosses who understand--even if they frown on--occasional cruising sabbaticals would be a real bonus...
    I'm even considering going back for an MSEE; does anyone know of any engineering schools that have some marine-tailored EE content?
    Thanks!
     

  13. navsurvey
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    navsurvey New Member

    Marine Surveying might be an option

    Marine surveying might be an option. Take a look at courses that you might enroll in either personally or by correspondence. Start with Navtech 1-800-245-4425 for full career options discussion.
     
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