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

  1. Willallison
    Joined: Oct 2001
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    Willallison Senior Member

    Eastlawn (clever if somewhat contrived name by the way :p ), why not simply visit the Westlawn web site as Stu Waring suggests - all the info you requested is there in black & white. If you find that to be too much of an effort, then I fear that the work required to complete a distance-ed course will be well beyond your reach.

    Stu Waring - I imagine that for most, a visit to Westlawn would be inspirational (I plan on coming to pick up my diploma in person when I qualify :D ). Sadly, CDBarry in spite of his protestations to the contrary, obviously has an axe to grind with Westlawn. I've met many who feel that the only qualifications worth having are those they hold themselves. It's a narrow way of thinking, that I fear will never be swayed - I won't hold my breath waiting for his "report on what he found".....
  2. Eastlawn
    Joined: Feb 2004
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    Location: france

    Eastlawn New Member

    Willallison - It quite simply is NOT there which is PRECISELY why I am requesting it.
  3. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    Location: Maryland

    CDBarry Senior Member

    My first concern is not a question of the quality of Westlawn, but mainly the idea that there are very few jobs in the rec boat field regardless of what your qualifications are. Julliard may be the best school of music in the world, but they don't tell any of their students that they will make big money in the exciting world of classical music.

    Mr. Waring is talking about 36 students finishing his course recently. There were maybe six openings for designers, total, advertised in the whole US in PBB, BI, and STI last year, and this is typical. Usually there is only one opening advertised in PBB every other issue (bi-monthly). Landing School also drops 16 or so on the market every year, plus folks from the universities. We have posts asking for anyone who is actually making a living in the rec boat industry, and have got maybe two at best. Of course you can always go out on your own, and compete for the fifty or so custom designed yachts done each year in the US, or you can sell plans in competition with people that spend a fortune advertising and have a lock on the market.

    Next, Westlawn has spent decades claiming that a university education is only good for "calculating boiler scale" (an exact quote from their sales literature) and has said that university grads can't design boats. This is clearly wrong, and though it is sincerely meant, it stems from the fact that no Westlawn people have any experience in a university program (another problem). I see it as a tragedy for someone who has an opportunity for a university education (and more do than think they do) passing it up, especially because someone with a university education can get a job designing "boats" and make a decent living, though they may be ferry boats, tug boats, crew boats, resupply boats, jack up boats, fish boats, fast attack boats, rescue boats, pilot boats, patrol boats ... instead of yachts.

    Westlawn probably means well, and they may even be right, but so far, they really haven't justified their statements that it is worth $8K+ and two or more years. I have no problem with Westlawn being offered as a hobby, or even an adjunct to other marine trades, but that is not how they advertise.

    Over the years, I have had to tell too many eager people with Westlawn certificates, that whatever shipyard or design firm I was with at the time had no use for them, and had been the 50th or 100th turn down to just ignore this.
  4. johnjt
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI USA

    johnjt Junior Member


    I just want to briefly reply to your post. These are my opinions, for whatever they're worth...
    First, after reviewing the Westlawn catalog for the ump-teenth time in recent weeks, I think that Westlawn has done an excellent job in representing what they offer and what a graduate can expect to acheive. Of course they say that the degree holds worth--they've got to and I'm sure it does! But I don't think that they make outrageous claims or unfair promises. They may have in the past, I do not know. Prospective students should be looking at the current material anyway.
    Second, I do have to take issue with your numbers game of open positions vs graduates. Yacht design, though it is a specialized field, is certainly not the only industry that turns out more graduates than it has positions. My best friend is just going to be graduating law school from a quality university this May. He's spent more than $80,000 on his J.D. alone. He can't get a job (in law) and he's not the only one. Of course the university didn't guarantee him a job when he was finished, but he took the risk anyway. He may eventually get a job in law. He may not. How many people actually work in the field in which they graduated? In my company, (and I have no actual numbers on this) but it is QUITE low. Such is the nature of the working world, I think. But waiting until a position opens to start getting the credentials that will help you land the job is obviously too late.
    In closing, I want to thank you again for this dialogue. I hope that it helps anyone that is considering the idea of attending Westlawn. Their decision should depend on informed information gathering, an assessment of what goal s/he wants to acheive and if they think that a Westlawn diploma can help them.

    Fair winds and calm seas (heck, I'd settle for sun and temps over 32 degrees!),
  5. Willallison
    Joined: Oct 2001
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    Location: Australia

    Willallison Senior Member

    Eastlawn - this appears to tell most of what you ask.. .. if not, then I've misunderstood the question...

    CDBarry - a quick skip through the material W/lawn sent me prior to my enrollment, and a further flick thru the info on their website, and I can find nothing that 'guarantees graduates a job' - nor for that matter anything about uni degrees ony being good for calculating boiler scale.
    Anyone intelligent enough to complete a course such as this is going to realise that there are a limited number of jobs in the sector - as there is in any sector, as johnjt suggests. I am intrigued at the suggestion that there are only about 50 custom yachts commisioned each year in the US. Here in Hobart (population 300,000) I can think of at least 5 custom boats being professionally built at the moment - and any number of amateur built boats. Like any business, yacht design is about supply & demand - surely if the number of design commissions was really this limited, then there would be far fewer practicing designers. I'm not disputing your numbers - I have no evidence to the contrary - but where does this information come from?
  6. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    Just on a different point, your attorney friend should be aware that the armed forces have special programs for law school graduates that may include payment of student loans and assignment at an advanced rank (typically O3). This might be an interesting way to start out a career. One of my friends did just that and had about ten years in the Army, served in San Francisco and NATO HQ in Europe and left as a LT COL.

    This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is worth looking into.
  7. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    Location: Maryland

    CDBarry Senior Member

    Both Australia and the UK are far better markets for custom design than the US. I have no idea why, or if it really is true, but it seems to be.

    As regards US data, Transamerica lending publishes stats each year.
  8. Stu waring
    Joined: Jan 2004
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    Location: Annapolis, MD

    Stu waring Junior Member

    Westlawn forum Now Active

    I wanted to let any Westlawn students that frequent this forum know that the new and much improved student forum on the Westlawn site is finally active. Most students should have received material in the mail by now on how to log in. If you have not, please contact me and I will email you instructions on how to do this the first time. This forum is for students and alumni of Westlawn only.

    For those of you who are not students and have questions about the school, I still check this site weekly for questions. You can ask them publicly in the forum or as most do, you can send them directly to me.

  9. poetprince
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Location: west coast canada

    poetprince Junior Member

    what a thread
    i was ready to respond at about #11
    and i'm glad i read through
    especially johnjt's remarks
    which reflect my own feelings
    especially in regards to learning for the sake of learning
    i too have muddled over westlawn's courses for a number of years
    i could have easily finished it by now
    but life took me elsewhere
    i'm a hands-on guy
    and decided to become a traditional wooden boatbuilder
    i think the most money i ever made was about 12 bucks an hour
    which caused me to take on many other strange forms of employment
    for i simply could not survive on so little
    but my love of boats and the sea has never diminished
    i have a degree in history
    not because of the money it would make for me
    but because i had no interest in becoming a lawyer
    much to the chagrin of my family
    some jobs i have taken have made me some large sums at various times
    others had me sweeping floors in boatbuilding shops
    i took the cash and travelled freely
    searching for out of the way places
    and volunteering with boatbuilders of every culture imaginable
    in languages i never spoke
    and with folks who neither spoke nor understood my own
    it has been highly rewarding
    and the education i received cannot be bought or sold
    westlawn can give me something that is elusive to so many people
    that other educational institutions simply cannot
    westlawn can give me freedom
    that is what i live for
    learning for the love of learning
    perhaps freedom means a job in the military for some
    for me it does not
    i can read a lines drawing or a blueprint
    and put together a boat or a house
    quicker than most people can pay their credit cards
    but i've never learned to draw well
    and that is something on my list of life's accomplishments
    that i promised myself i would fulfill
    i think i am ready this year
    to make such a commitment
    and that in itself
    makes me very happy

  10. alravi

    alravi Guest

    i want to know some infotrmation abt my further studies

    i have completed bachelor of eng in naval arcgitecture. i want to know any courses or training for sghipdesigning is there?
  11. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    Location: Maryland

    CDBarry Senior Member

    Go out and work for a while, then you will be able to figure out which direction to go, and what you like.
  12. TuckSail
    Joined: Jul 2004
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    Location: Long Island, NY

    TuckSail Mechanical Engineer

    I have been working in the Commercial/Government design field for 3 years now. I know I want to go into recreational yacht design. I am interested in getting my hands dirty and learning how a boat yard operates, and gaining any experience I can. I am located in New York. Does anyone have any ideas where I can start looking, or what I should be looking for. (By the way I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and I am a Westlawn Student, I also have a Coast Guard Captains (25 gross tons) License and I worked at a marina for 6 years)
  13. CDBarry
    Joined: Nov 2002
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    Location: Maryland

    CDBarry Senior Member

    Just start reading the professional literature (through SNAME, CSYS, etc.) attend IBEX, and get your name in with the recruiters. Maybe you can find amechanical position with a yacht builder and work over.

    You will probably have to substantially augment your Westlawn stuff by self-study. Westlawn is mainly intended for people who have little technical background, and you can pick up a lot from better sources because you already know more about the fundamentals of structures, hydrodynamics, systems etc. than they can teach their students.
  14. vinceduf
    Joined: Mar 2004
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    Location: Mougins FRANCE

    vinceduf Junior Member

    Hello chaps,
    one thing which could interest people, is that as a YDI graduate (1988) it took me 8 years to complete the home study diploma program (which was equivalent to Westlawn as far as I have seen), 15 % of the student were completing the course.

    for your stats:
    It took me 3600 hours to complete Lessons 1 to 19 and 1600 hours to draw the three boats for the final diploma, knowing that I was working part of my time in Yacht design offices of people such as Martin FRANCIS, Jacques FAUROUX, Luc BOUVET/Olivier PETIT.

    I was quite exhausted at the end, when I have been sending my last project for final examination :) but it was worth the time and money at the end!

  15. yago
    Joined: Aug 2004
    Posts: 118
    Likes: 2, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 17
    Location: Budapest Hungary

    yago __

    Hi all - and I am also considering signing up ;-)

    Some time ago I decided to design my own boat and have since started building it. You may check it out at

    It was not my first project, having already build and sailed several steel yachts many years ago in France. But this time it was my own design, and, having spend some time with developing share- and freeware, I thought it might be a cute gesture to publish my work as "open source" so to say, for anybody who might want it. Plans, drawings and a big building manual are free for download at the website and updated as the work progresses.

    Then a funny thing happened: people actually started to find the site and to download and there are several project in the planning for other boats to be build to my plans. Suddenly I found myself being responsible for other peoples dreams, for their personal security, not to talk about the cash they will invest. even with all warnigns about my amateur status, and insisting on their obligation that they should use their own head and validate and verify - simply the fact that my stuff is free is not an excuse for not delivering something as professional as I can. It's a trap.

    After I became aware of that, I had to change my approach and try to learn as fast and as much as possible. The web is a big help, and there are some very good books out there, and having lived the life of a semi-professional skipper on all sorts of boats for near 20 years sure helps to prevent me from the worst. But still... my night are getting very short already. So if I sing up with Westlawn, I would just manage to finish when it's time to stop working for good ;-)

    Also, the more I read and the more I played around with different variations, the more boats I had in my head that I would like to spend more time on, and maybe find somebody interested in them... I am hooked for good. But that will require that I have a look at other concepts that I do not yet understand, learn new ideas and materials and find to ask the right questions. I could not do that on my own, and living here, as a German in Hungary (they don't even have a coast here...), with a very busy and demanding day-job in the IT sector, the only way to learn is via distance education.

    So here is my question: having passed the fifties some years ago, and having a proper job already anyway, do I really have to fork out all that money and go back to learning and working all night long just to feel better?

    On the other hand: When my boat is ready, and if I nicely continue to publish my stuff and try to promote my ideas, all this might gain momentum and it would sure be nice to have a few "professional" plans to pay occasionally for my cigarettes while cruising ;-)

    And Stu - I already asked that in a mail and you send me a short answer, but I am still worried about the metric/imperial issue? Can the course be done all metric?

    Finally: Do the projects designed during the courses become part of the student's portfolio, is there enough leeeway to personalize each project to fit my own ideas and tastes, and - of course - who retains the right to the designs?
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