Q&A for all Marine Engineers

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by rww76, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. rww76
    Joined: Feb 2009
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    rww76 Technician

    Hello Everyone,

    I would like to raise some questions and see if they are of a major concern for all of you.
    In fact, I would like to have some feedback about what you are doing as a marine engineer and what kind of proplems you are constantly facing.

    For instance: - How do you face the Intellectual property rights issues as a boat designer?
    - Do you think that the actual education system prepares a graduate to be a marine engineer? Or, do you think that the industry gives enough feedback to the universities to prepare them accordingly?

    Can you tell me what are the problems you are constantly facing as a marine engineer, systems engineer, naval architect, ... ?
    Thank you

    Christopher
     
  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    A marine engineer works on engines. I think you may mean naval architect.
     
  3. rww76
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    rww76 Technician

    Yes, you are right, I thought about a general engineer working in the maritime industry.
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    There are some universities that offer a degree in engineering for naval architects. Other engineers work their way into the marine industry. I think the first is better because the courses focus on ships.
     
  5. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    Location: On board Corroboree

    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Christopher, some thoughts:

    What kinds of problems do I constantly face?
    I hear this practically every day: "I want to build a boat, but I don't have any money." Most people have no idea how much money it costs to design and build a boat, or their ideas about cost are woefully inadequate.

    All too often a customer will ask for a rig design on a boat that he is building because when he has priced out the cost of the rig that was designed for the boat, it is way more expensive than he anticipated. So then he thinks he can build his own rig a lot cheaper--sorry, does not work that way. At least for larger boats, any standard rig from an established spar builder will be cheaper than building one yourself.

    Intellectual property:
    In my case, my designs are unique enough that I have never really had one copied, touch wood! I do write "Copyright" on all the drawings, and I usually issue .pdf copies of drawings, not the original AutoCad drawings. Still, it is possible to rasterize a drawing into AutoCad from a pdf file, so that is really no protection. But I also have restrictions in my design agreements that limit the usefullness of the drawings to the construction of the boat at hand. Also, all the drawings remain my property unless I agree to release them to ownership by the client.

    You have to consider that if you create new art, then is there anyone out there that wants to steal it? Why? Why would they steal it? If you post artwork publicly for the first time yourself, you have at least established a public release point that identifies the work as yours. If anyone tries to steal it, you have a good case for taking legal action against the theft. But this goes back to the first question--why would anyone steal your work? Is your work so unique and innovative that someone else thinks they can have it for free? Then what would they do with it? That is actually a very high minded attitude. You cannot build a boat design from fancy pictures and art; it needs to have detailed construction drawings. So renderings and even some drawings are worth nothing if the nuts-and-bolts drawings are not there.

    This actually brings up another common problem: I have designed a number of boats for other professional builders for which I cannot release or sell the drawings because they are protected to that builder. My speedboat designs are an example:

    Caller: "I saw your boat so-and-so at the boat show. Will you sell me the plans so that I can build one myself?"

    Me: "No, the drawings are protected to my client so that dolts like you can't compete with them. They are unique to that builder. If you like that kind of boat, I can design you one."

    Caller: "How much does that cost?"

    Me: "Minimum, US$25,000."

    Caller: "I don't have that much money."

    See the first paragraph above.

    Education and professional preparedness:
    In my experience, the colleges teaching naval architecture and marine engineering prepare you extremely well for the field. There is constant interplay between industry and academia because academia are the research engines for the industry. In the last 5 years, I have been astounded by the amount of intellectual, engineering and design development that has transpired around the world in commercial ship building, from the little harbor patrol craft, to mid-size ferries, to offshore supply vessels, to cruise ships and cargo carriers. And I and my colleagues and acquaintenances the last few years of these terribly recessionary times still all seem to be remarkably busy. I had one of my best years ever in 2011. 2010 wasn't so hot, about average, but last year was really good. Yes, you will get a good engineering foundation if you go to a good naval architecture school. Most colleges prepare you for the commercial world, not the recreational world, but at least all the engineering principles are the same. And if you want to go into the megayacht end of the market, judging by the picture on your profile, then you need a good commercial engineering background. Megayachts are nothing but really pretty commercial vessels--that is, they have to meet all the engineering and safety standards of commercial vessels, so you had better know what that means.

    I hope that helps.

    Eric
     
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  6. rww76
    Joined: Feb 2009
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    rww76 Technician

    Eric,

    Thank you very much for your answer.
    I am actually working for the Royal Institution of Naval Architect in the UK and it is my job to prepare and organise conferences on different subject.
    I am asking these questions to know if they are major concerns for you naval architects. In fact, the RINA already organised 2 conferences on: 'Education and Professional Development' and 'Intellectual Property Rights for small craft designers'. These conferences seemed very usefull for the delegates attending it, specially for the IPR seminar where professional attorneys came to share experiences and answer questions from the small craft designers. It seems that some of them faced patents and trademarks issues because they were not protected enough with IPR.
    However, according to your answer, this is probably right for just a minority of designer and it is not a general big issue, is it?

    Again, thank you for your answer.

    Best regards
    Christopher
     

  7. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    Location: On board Corroboree

    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Christopher,

    Actually, they are all important issues at some time or another, but generally not faced with constantly. I have seen the notices for those conferences from the postings I get through RINA, although I don't see the need to fly to the UK to attend. I've been a member of RINA since 1974, and a Chartered Engineer since 1983.

    One issue we had here about 5-8 years ago was PE licensing for naval architects and marine engineers here in the US. Because of the way are separate states are managed, we have state licenses, not national licenses as in most countries. Every state's requirements are different, and this leads to whole hosts of problems as to whether PE licences should be required or not. In naval architecture, this has boiled down to the fact that boats and ships are vehicles that can cross jurisdictional boundaries, and so it is very easy to work around who should be licensed or not--that is, go to a jurisdiction that does not require licenses for design and construction. As a result, most do not require NAME licensing, but will offer it voluntarily as long as the appropriate examinations are available. I was very active in that effort here in Florida, and had a direct impact on Florida making PE licensing for NAME voluntary.

    One of the requirements of maintaining a PE in some jurisdictions is that you have to prove you have received "Continuing Education" credits--CE credits. You usually gain these by attending seminars on technical subjects. In my opinion, the amount of credits that you can earn at any given function is so ridiculously small that it is hardly worthwhile to go. For example, going to one lecture session at IBEX (similar to METS in Europe), lasting for 1.5 hours, you get 0.15 hours credit. Some states require many hours of credit per year, and so you have to spend inordinate amounts of time and money to go after these credits. Personally, I believe that an hour of lecture time should equate to an hour of credit--then it would mean something.

    Eric
     
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