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Discussion in 'Education' started by Stu waring, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. Stu waring
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Stu waring Junior Member

    Hello everyone,

    I posted this message in the open forum and wanted to get it in under education so I am posting part of it again..... I am an instructor at Westlawn and would be happy to answer any questions as time permits and as best as I can in regards to the school. I can tell you that a lot has changed at Westlawn in the past 10 months since ABYC has taken ownership. I encourage all to visit the Westlawn website <> and see what is new. With Dave Gerr leading the charge the school is growing rapidly. Dave has a wealth of knowledge and is pouring it out into the school. Current students should be very excited about the immediate future at Westlawn!
  2. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    One issue with Westlawn is that the instructors are also from Westlawn. In other circles this is known as "academic incest", and one sure way to guarantee you won't teach at a given academic institution is to get your degree(s) there, because it tends to restrict the entry of new ideas and to promulgate old errors (remember the children's game of whispering a message from one person to another and seeing how distorted it gets?). How is Westlawn dealing with that?
  3. John Perry
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    John Perry Senior Member

    Reading some of the messages from students currently at naval architecture college I am surprised that they are being taught to draw with drawing boards, tee-squares and ships curves etc as well as with computers. I have worked in many engineering firms over the years including a couple of firms which have been involved in the design of equipment for yachts and small craft and I can tell you that the computer revolution in engineering drawing was well underway fifteen years ago and today it is for all practical purposes complete. Virtually no one who works in mechanical engineering, shipbuilding or yacht building is now producing engineering drawings other than by computer. Are these students taking a course in the history of technology?
  4. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    There is some merit to having to understand how to fair lines by hand, because there is a relationship between the curve a batten can take and the fairness of a hull, in that both are defined in terms of second derivatives, and the curves beams take under point loadings, but I don't know if NA colleges, as opposed to YD schools, are still using hand drafting. A good background in vector calculus and related mathematics of surfaces accomplishes the same thing. (And you never used a t-square for marine drafting.)

    It is interesting to note that auto companies were recruiting NA students for a while because they were good at the mathematics of surface shape.
  5. Stu waring
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    Stu waring Junior Member

    We insist that students learn how to draw and have just passed new policy at Westlawn stating that they have to complete a certain amount of the early part of course by hand. We feel that this will give the students a certian amount of appreciation of how talented some of the great designers really were. Plus, we all know there is nothing like the satisfaction of drawing your first set of lines using traditional methods.
    I think that there is a necessary balance of engineer and artist that goes into every good designer. Anyone can learn the math, some may struggle more than others and some may get frustrated to the point of giving up, but you can either draw or you can not. Learning to take what you invision in your mind and put it on paper is a gift, not a simple thing to do and very difficult to teach. Cad is a way around it for some that simply can not or do not want to learn how to use a pencil. But I beleive that in the long run this is more of a handicap than an answer. I know of a very prominant office with a couple of designers that only work in CAD that can not participate in think tank meetings on site because they simpky can not draw!
    I believe that there should still be some signifigance placed on the importance manual drawing, sketching and drafting needed to develop preliminary concepts and sketches of a design. Once the design is complete and preliminary drawings are begun there is no question but to use the computer and benefit from all its advantages.

    In reagards to Westlawn hiring Westlawn students, I am that. But I am not only that. I think that this is a difficult senario to reply to when there are really only 2 schools in the country that do not make you quite your job to get an education in the industry while still working in it. As I found myself like many of my students interested in yacht design later in life and long past being able to drop everything and spend big $$$ and years in college, one of these two schools was the only option. Was I hired because I took the course? I am sure that was part of it, but also and more importantly because I was a production manager for a prominant builder, owned a boat repair yard and had built boats for years had more to do with it because they wanted to bring practical experience to the program. Having the education was a bonus.
  6. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    I'm glad that you have a broad background, especially in construction.
    It should contribute a lot.

    I'm not sure that late vocations are always impossible - I know a number of UM grads who went later in life, but I understand what you mean. However, if we look at Landing school, the lead faculty member and members of the board are from other institutions, and this might bring greater breadth to a program. I don't know the full content of the Westlawn course, but I have seen a few things from students that make me wonder a bit, though most of them were conceptual things, use of terms or similar that may not have any real impact on designs. These might not be part of the course, but perhaps you should get someone from completely outside to vet your materials.

    However, the big question I think prospective students should ask is how many students enter the course, and how many complete it, and in how much time.

    Finally, though I am old enough to have drafted by hand (on linen, and lettered with a Speedball pen), I find that sketching in CAD in 3D is no big problem either, and I've started all my designs in CAD from the first step since R10. It just takes practice, like anything else. It's just a tool.
  7. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    I still use weights, battens, Mylar and pencil for some design development. I find that sometimes my mind is a bit freer in the concept stage with hand tools rather than with the computer. Therefore, I will not give up my hand tools. For final drawings, I produce everything in CAD in 2D. The hull shape and superstructure get produced in 3D, but all drawings go 2D. For NC cutting development and photo-realistic renderings, I hire out to whoever can do it for me.

    I also believe that the art of drafting is disappearing. Doing a drawing by hand teaches you drawing organization, proportion, and how to develop the information so that it is easily read. Remember, the 2D drawings are still what goes to the shop floor for construction, and so they have to be well done and easily understood by the builders.

    If you can produce a good drawing by hand, you can generally repeat it in CAD. The principles of information control and readability are the same. Which is not to say that you can't teach these principles solely in CAD, but by doing by hand, you can take the time to go over the principles more carefully. You also learn to be efficient. Too much information on a drawing is just as bad as not enough information.

    One of the worst faults in most drawings is lettering. Most people don't know how to letter well. The biggest fault is to use all capital letters. All caps is extremely hard to read. You should use normal capitalization as you would find in a book. This makes it easier to read. To make a CAD drawing look much better, too, is to use a font that looks like hand lettering. It adds a lot to a drawing. Finally, one of the neat benefits of CAD drafting is that you have finer control over line width. A really good looking hand drawing has different widths (or boldnesses) of line, usually three or four widths from very fine to quite bold. A good CAD drawing, to my mind, has five different line weights (no need to have more than that, but easier to produce in CAD). A bad CAD drawing has only one line width (usually too thin) so that there is no depth to the drawing, making it look very bland.

    Well, them's my thoughts, for what they are worth.

  8. betelgeuserdude
    Joined: Sep 2003
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    betelgeuserdude Junior Member

    Mr. Sponberg,

    Thank you for this and your other posts. I have learned quite a bit from you. I appreciate the fact that you offer so much to inspire and instruct, rather than throwing up roadblocks.

    I'm one of those guys who happens to love drafting, perhaps because as a boat builder, I'm still "in touch" with my work. Drawing helps me to better visualize. I like that my final product is more a result of my creativity, organization, and consistancy than just a computer's. Thanks for your points regarding line widths, detail, and lettering.

    That said, I am looking forward to becoming familiar with software to simplify some of the more mundane tasks. Same as using a GPS rather than celestial observations for navigation.

    When I first started building boats for myself, I really got into the plans which exhibited detail. When I started building professionally, I saw only builder's plans, with only the barest of detail. They got the information across very efficiently (mostly leaving everything to the builder), but I would never hang them on the wall. I guess I loved the detailed plans, because they were so much fun to constantly discover; always some new detail to run across and explore. They made me feel that the designer really loved his craft, and respected those who viewed his work.

    Still, while everyone is producing computer models as a means of presentation, I still prefer the old drawings of the masters.

    Thanks again.

  9. Stu waring
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    Stu waring Junior Member

    I guess I will answer the questions about the course first. We are averaging between 15 – 20 new students a month. As most know the course is comprised of 4 modules broken down into 38 lessons. Each module requires between 1000 and 1500 hours of work to complete most of which is drawing. As most of our students are fully employed in various occupations this is all done on evenings and weekends averaging about 15 – 20 hours a weeks. Of course life throws all kinds of reasons to procrastinate (and we have heard them all) but on average most students finish this within the 12 month contract they sign at the beginning of each module. If they require more time to complete they may request a 6 month or 12 month extension and we give out lots of these.
    Ask any graduate, it is not an easy course, it is very challenging and at times can seem never ending. And unlike what I have read in other threads you have to draw and draw and draw. This usually weeds out who is serious and who is not.
    Does everyone finish, not even close. But we do have a lot of graduates, you bet! You want names, here is a few that you might recognize:

    Tom Fexas Independent Designer
    Bruce King Independent Designer
    Jack Hargrave Independent Designer, Designer for Hatteras,
    Bertram, others
    Gary Mull Independent Designer
    Bill Cook Independent Designer
    Bill Shaw Independent Designer
    Charlie Morgan Independent Designer, President Morgan Yachts
    Rod Johnston Independent Designer, Founder & Designer J/Boats
    Dave Gerr Independent Designer
    David P. Martin Independent Designer, Designer for Ocean Yachts,
    Egg Harbor, Pacemaker, others
    Rodger Martin Independent Designer
    Luc St. Onge Designer, Doral
    Ted Brewer Independent Designer
    Bob Walstrom Independent Designer
    Robert Harris Independent Designer
    Dudley Dix Independent Designer
    Stephen Pollard Independent Designer
    David Beach Independent Designer, Architect for NMMA
    Jay Coyle Independent Designer,
    Technical Editor for Yachting Magazine
    Doug Zurn Independent Designer
    Dick McBride Independent Designer
    Dave Napier Designer, Bertram
    Fred Geiger Designer, Trumpy
    Robert F. MacNeill Independent Designer, Marine Consultant,
    former President Carver Boats
    Walter G. Hahn Designer, American Custom Yachts
    Richard C. Lazzara Designer, Lazzara Yachts, Gulfstar
    Eric Ogden Independent Designer, Designer "French Kiss"
    French 12M America's Cup Contender
    Eric Henseval Independent Designer, Architect for Van
    Peteghem-Lauriot-Prevost (MVP-VLP), Arradon Team
    D.A.J. (Dan) Parker Designer & President, Monaro Marine Ltd.
    George Menezes Designer, Sabre
    James Loeschen Designer, Jack Hargrave and Hargrave Custom Yachts
    J. Henry Martinak Independent Designer, Designer Café Yachts
    Thurber Whitey Project Manager, Rybovich Spencer
    Peter Eichenberger USCG Officer, Boating Safety
    Lysle Gray USCG Civilian Supervisor, Boating Safety
    Nicholas DeMateo Designer, Tom Fexas Yacht Design
    Norman Nudleman Independent Designer, Former President Westlawn
    David Fox Designer, US Navy Combatant Craft

    This is just a partial list that we have been working on in the last few months. So if anyone reads this thread and is a graduate of Westlawn and does not see there name on the list please contact the school. We would love to hear from you. This is not a new question, we get all the time, but it is very hard to keep track of students once they are gone unless they contact us.
    How many graduate a year, well it depends on the year, but on average I would say somewhere between 10 -15. Some may have done it inside the four years where as most have been working on it for a long time. But once they get in past the second year they almost all finish at some point.

    In response to hiring Westlawn students. Like I said before, sure we do. Do we think it is a set back. No. We have put out some of the best designers in the industry so we must be doing something right. Do they all think the same way? you must be kidding! Have they all got their own way of doing things? Absolutely, what two designers are alike? The director of the school is a grad from several years ago. But he has been working as an independent designer for years and knows so much more than what the school taught him from practical experience in the industry. Talk about bringing in top quality. Dave Gerr has been published in more magazines than I know of and has written three of the most highly regarded books on yacht design out there. The school faculty is very lucky to have him, as are the students who at any time can call or email and speak with him directly.
    What person on that list would you not want? I am not sure that your question has merit. I know what you are saying, but there are only four yacht design schools out there that teach it. A guy from a NA program like Webb would probably be great and we have grads that have done both but as clearly stated in other threads are more engineering oriented than design. They primarily study ships not small craft (that is a stereotype but you all know what I am trying to say). Westlawn is a 70+ year old design school focusing on small craft design, we teach yacht design, so likely if you work here at some point in your life you have taken our program, if not you will!
  10. 8knots
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    8knots A little on the slow side

    Hmmmmm. Stu, Thanks for the reply with Grad numbers. This will help a lot of people who have asked that very question here many times before. A word of caution tho....Your reply to Mr Barry seems like a "TAKE THAT" rather than an answer to a honest question/suggestion. You did answer the question but with a bit of a spin. Maybe I'm reading you wrong, But it seems a little off from what I would expect from a reresenative of Westlawn or any other business for that matter.

    I am Glad you have Gerr on your staff! In your defense If had a choice in who to hire, I would hire my own. Most any biz or organazation is based on a particular philosophy (Is there a spell check on this thing) A product of your own school (Gerr) will by nature support that. Not sure about design stagnation. I think Yacht design is a bit of an art form based on mathmatical rules and constants. Everything else is a compromised opinion of the designer (meaning the visual part of the design) It is up to the student/designer to "Make his stand out" so long as it conforms to the rules.
    Westlawn is in the biz of teaching "Rules"

    On that note I have a question....I have considered taking your course for some time. But of course I have a few of the excuses you have heard before ;) I am a power guy at heart so working the sail design portion would drive me nuts! It is hard for anybody to really apply themselves to a subject they have little interest in. Do you use a "control" sailboat design for the course? Meaning all students draw the same basic thing? I can see the reason behind this being easy grading! If I could draw my own for the course it would be more interesting to me!

    For the record....I agree with Mr Sponberg. I can get my ideas down faster wiggling a pencil and stick around. My original sketches are so much "warmer" than after I scan and trace them into the PC.
    With that said I just aquired a 60" drafting table with Mutoh track mounted drafting machine for $150 30-40 years I'll be after Gerr's Job.
    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
    Have a great day Gent's 8Knots
  11. Stu waring
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    Stu waring Junior Member

    By no means was my response any type of personal attack on Mr. Berry and please do not read it that way. I was simply trying to answer the questions given and back them up with actual data. In the miles of thread about Westlawn there are some real misconceptions. What I was attempting to present was real names and numbers not just myth. I figured that it would stir things up a bit… but in no way was I trying to be offensive. To all and especially CDBarry my apologies if it read that way.

    In regards to your questions about sail boat design in the course… The curriculum is set up in such away that there is a balance between both sail and power. In some aspects we control the designs but there are never any two lessons submitted that look the same. An example early in the program might be to design a 35’ sailboat that can sleep four and is capable of weekend cruising, that is all the parameters we set. As you work further into the course there are more requirements similar to what an owner might request when commissioning a design. We do not control the creative side such as stating that it be modern or classic, that is totally up to the student. The variety we see is unbelievable! You do not draw just one design either. In the 2nd module five sets of hull lines covering sail, power and multihulls between 20’ and 50’ are done along with the exterior profile, arrangement, interior profiles, sections and sailplan and deck plan where applicable. It is a lot of drawing! You would definitely find it interesting and challenging.

    Hey I am a sailor and drawing sailboats is so much easier for me than powerboats, so I can totally appreciate how hard it is to design what you have no feeling for. But yacht design covers everything from dinghy’s to multihulls, monohull sail boats to 100 mega yachts. So students tough it out and draw everything. Most have no idea where they may land in the industry so being diversified in both aspects is fairly well accepted.

    8knots - Hope that helps.
  12. Willallison
    Joined: Oct 2001
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    Willallison Senior Member

    8 - like you I'm basically a powerboat guy and I must admit that I had reservations about having to draw a whole lot of blow-boats, but I have to say that I've enjoyed drawing them (almost) as much as the real ones :D :D A pleasant surprise.....
    One thing I can say, is that whilst these courses all seem rather a lot of work for us amateurs, the longer you put off starting, the longer it will be 'till you finish - stop making excuses and enroll!!! :p
  13. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    The real questions I had in mind were what is the ratio of graduates, working or not, who complete the course, and how many people typically complete it each year.
  14. 8knots
    Joined: Feb 2002
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    8knots A little on the slow side

    Stu, Thanks for the reply. The answers are what I was looking for! I can live with that.

    Will, Tis funny you replyed...I was going to PM you about module 2 knowing you just finished it. As far as enrolling I just received the new packet from W
    on saturday the copy I had was old as dirt. I am talking to my CFO (wife) about the $ situation. I have a fair amount of consumer debt I am chipping away at. 2K at A time is childs play tho in the grand scheme of things. I hope to pull this off. I need to get my money back out of my foundry venture
    this will give me a little more room to work. Thats the nuts and bolts of it!
    :p keep em sharp 8

  15. Stu waring
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    Stu waring Junior Member

    CD - I wish that I had that information for you and everyone wondering that. I would like to see those stats too. But as I said earlier it is extremely difficult if not impossible to keep track of our graduates once they finish if they do not stay in contact with us. So honestly I can not answer that question with fact.
    What I can tell you is that based on numbers from the last several years Westlawn enrolls around 200+/- students into one of the 4 modules annually and graduates approximately 10+/- students per year from Module 4. Where they go and what they do after that like I said is hard to track. We are trying to generate that list now, but with 40% of our student body outside the US it is difficult. We do have a rapidly growing list of design firms and companies that currently employ our students and graduates. I will be happy to post this if anyone would like to see it.

    8 knots and others. If $$$ is a concern and it always should be… Westlawn offers a monthly payment plan. You can enroll in the program for as little as $450USD and then take advantage of a $150USD monthly payment plan for 10 months. This can be done via posted check, MC or Visa. A lot of students like this option vs. dropping 2K down at the beginning. (8 - your CFO might go for that! :D) We also work with many companies that offer their employees educational training reimbursement. Check with your employer to see if this applies to you, you might be able to study for free! What ever way it is, once you enroll we ship you mod 1 and you go to work.
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