need direction in the Naval Arch/Marine Eng field

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by lhnewman, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. lhnewman
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    lhnewman Junior Member

    My son, 25 years, has a mechanical engineering degree from a good university...after 2 years working on boats ( Captain, mate, etc) he decided he wanted a career in Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering. After talking with University of Michigan...they told him he would have to start over with the entire undergrauate program ( which he just completed the first 2 years of)...he was advised to start the WestLawn program which he is currently doing. he has completed the first module with high grades..he is currently doing some part-time work with a Naval Architect...but the work is sporadic..

    any advise from someone in this discipline, if he wants a career in this field..start over at true Naval Architect School..or continue with WestLawn...he enjoys working with high-end sportfishing boats

    thanks

    worried Father
     
  2. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    What are his career goals? Designing small(er) boats? If so the Westlawn program would be a good compliment to a mechanical engineering degree. An alternative would be the one year resident Landing School yacht design program. http://www.landingschool.edu/YachtDesignProgram.html Experience working in a naval architect's office would also be valuable, particularly it is more than routine CAD work and similar.

    On the other hand if he may want to get a job which involves working on larger vessel projects such as tugs and navy ships then a degree with "naval architecture" in the title could be very worthwhile.

    What did he just complete the first two years of? The University of Michigan program? If so then why wouldn't he finish it? Or are you referring to two years of something else?

    Is his mechanical engineering degree a Bachelor (four year) or Associate (two year) degree. Is degree title "Mechanical Engineering", or something like "Mechanical Engineering Technology"? That would make a major difference in what courses would be recognized in a Bachelor's program, and the ability to directly pursue a Master's degree.

    Assuming he has a four year degree (with reasonable grades) in Mechanical Engineering from an accredited, recognized school of engineering, was there any discussion with the University of Michigan about pursuing a Master's degree in Naval Architecture? A Master's degree is a common path for someone who has a Bachelor's degree in one engineering field and wants to move into another engineering field. I have a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and then went to Michigan and received a Master's degree in Naval Architecture.
     
  3. lhnewman
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    lhnewman Junior Member


    sorry for the confusion...yes he got his BS in Mech Eng from a good Engineering school ( U of Fla )...Michigan people said he would have to do the 4-year program in Naval Arch..."the first 2 years " refers to the first 2 years of the Naval Arch program..... he has done this course work when he did his Mech Eng degree ( math, physics, thermo, etc ) and it seems redundant, and expensive to redo this curriculum...I don't think he has an interest in Tugs or Naval ships...The Naval Arcitect he's working with designs high-end sportfishing boats which he loves...but he knows he can't be to picky...but Tugs and Naval stuff I don't think would be his passion...never considered the Masters program...interesting...what kind of work do you do?

    Larry
     
  4. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    DCockey has already raised the “end goal”. What is the objective?

    It essentially comes down to does he want to be a professional naval architect, or just someone who does drawings and “some calculations” in a drawing office and produces nice renderings? The goal to achieve these 2 extremes is vastly different.

    If he is content in just “drawing”, and producing “pretty pictures” in the styling sense, then any Westlawn –esque type of distance learning program would be sufficient.

    If he wishes to have a career where he can be a yacht designer or a super tanker designer and anything in-between and do all the calculations from first principals himself, then just about any decent university degree program would suffice. BUT, this still needs the “usual” 3-4 years minimum of working with qualified naval architects to take the academic apprentiship into a practical application on a professional basis.

    The quick Westlawn route is for those that want to hit the ground running, but is limited in the technical aspects and also it is a job specific course not a profession as such. The people that take these courses tend to feel “qualified” upon getting their certification/diploma. The “bit of paper” appears to be sufficient, for some reason!

    A degree in naval architecture plus the prerequisite of several years on the job training, under a professional tutelage, is the professional and “qualified” route. Not everyone has the patience to learn the full route; most “want to draw boats now!!”. This route provides the NA with the skills to do any type of NA work.

    So, you need to ask your son, which end of the spectrum is he closer to?
     
  5. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Larry,

    With a four year degree it sounds like a masters would be the best option for him. Do get a double undergrad degree often means having to duplicate the graduation requirements since once you use classes for a degree you often can't reapply them to another one. Which is why a masters is so desirable, he may have to take undergrad classes he ignored (as not relavelt) to qualify for the masters program, but they will be degree specific and necessary for him anyway.

    I would also look around the country at other programs and see what other grad programs offer including internships, and research opportunities, since many masters programs require at least some original research.
     
  6. GTO
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    GTO Senior Member

    I suspect the U of Mich is simply trying to make more money by requiring the retaking of the first years courses. Universities try various ways to empty your wallet - too long after graduation, class taken for a different course of study, etc.

    My suggestion is that you should shop around. Most likely you can find a Univ. willing to accept the previous course work. And be blunt. Tell them either accept the previous courses or you are taking your money elsewhere.
     
  7. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    I think DCockey's advice is good, check out the Master's prgrams. I am a University of Michigan grad in naval architecture, and I am embarrassed that my alma mater would require your son to complete the entire 4-year program after getting an engineering degree from the Univ. of Florida. I wonder of GTO's comments hold a ring of truth.

    I was also on the advisory board of the design program at the Landing School for 7 years and was instrumental in selecting their resident naval architect, Steve Dalzell. I know the Landing School to be a very good alternative. They regularly get engineering bachelor degreed students into their design and building programs, so he would not be alone. And the neat things about the Landing School are: 1) You get very practical knowledge; 2) You get an interegnum period during the school year to go work at a design office or a boat builder; 3) You get frequent exposure to professionals who come in a guest lecture; and finally, and I think this is most important: 4) The Landing School has a job placement program that all graduates get to use for life. The job placement rate at industry jobs right out of the school exceeds 95%, and this holds consistently 5 years out.

    If you would like to read further, I wrote an article on my website for people who would like to go into naval architecture, which you can read here: http://sponbergyachtdesign.com/ArticlesDesigner.htm. Don't be discouraged by the first half of the article. The second half is much more upbeat. Look for the link to New Wave Systems which has a list of all the naval architecture colleges and boat building schools around the world. There are a lot of them. Southampton Institute (where Steve Dalzell came from) and the University of Southampton in the UK have pretty good reputations, and I know a number of Americans who have gone through those programs.

    Good luck to your son--I hope this helps.

    Eric
     
  8. lhnewman
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    lhnewman Junior Member

    thank you for your response...good thoughts
     
  9. lhnewman
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    lhnewman Junior Member

    thanks for your response
     
  10. lhnewman
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    lhnewman Junior Member

    Thanks Eric...very good information...may I contact you by Email?

    Larry Newman, Stuart, Fl
     
  11. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Sure, or you can call me on the phone. The number is on my website: www.sponbergyachtdesign.com.

    Eric
     
  12. lhnewman
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    lhnewman Junior Member

    sorry for the late response...good advice...I appreciate it
     

  13. lhnewman
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    lhnewman Junior Member

    Eric,

    Thanks for the phone conversation...most gracious of you...your thoughts will be most helpful to Ben in his career pursuit...hope to see you soon

    Larry Newman
     
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