Qualifications for a small craft design business?

Discussion in 'Education' started by sadornati, Dec 24, 2020.

  1. sadornati
    Joined: Jul 2014
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    sadornati Junior Member

    I've been researching online and having trouble finding what exactly is required to produce small craft designs, construct, and sell them, and if I have the qualifications to do so.

    A little background.. I am early in my career and have a BS in Civil Engineering and MS in Ocean Engineering: Naval Architecture. I should have a PE license in Civil: Construction in a couple weeks (just passed the exam and was approved by the Board). I currently work in the public sector (flood prevention and dredging) and I am thinking of a side pursuit in boat design, given my organization has no issues.

    What are the usual legal requirements for designing a boat from scratch, constructing it, and selling? In terms of design stamps, insurances, paperwork, etc.

    Thanks very much.
     
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  2. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    I will be interested in what other folk have to say on this matter.
    If you have a PE license in Civil Engineering, would this cover you as a professional engineer to work in the field of naval architecture in the USA?

    I would guess that the main hurdle would be to obtain appropriate liability insurance?
    Many of the best / most famous small craft designers in the past had little or no qualifications (and certainly not PE status) - yet they were / are brilliant designers.
    But times change.....
    Are you planning on constructing boats yourself, and then selling them as a business?
    I guess you would have to meet the various USCG and ABYC standards for small craft?
     
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  3. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    In the USA having a PE allows you to sign any engineering design. It is in the honor system, where you are not supposed to do work you are not qualified for. However, there is no requirement for designing or building small craft.
     
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  4. DCockey
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    DCockey Senior Member

    USCG Boatbuilders Handbook Boatbuilder's Handbook https://uscgboating.org/regulations/boatbuilders-handbook.php

    New Boatbuilders Home Page | Everything Boat Building https://newboatbuilders.com/ is an excellent resource for anyone getting into boat design or boat building in the US. Ike who ocsassionally posts here created and maintains the website

    Boats in the US are very different from buildings, bridges and other civil engineering type projects in terms of regulations. Certain types of boats including boats carrying over 6 (or if large enough 12) passengers for hire need to be Coast Guard inspected which means the USCG inspects the plans and vessel and determines whether the vessels are in compliance with the rules. A PE can stamp is not required. Boats which are not required to be inspected are not required to have any type of review.

    Certain new recreational boats under 20 feet in length are required to have a lalel certifying the boat as meeting applicable USCG safety standards. The label is affixed by the builder or importer and they decide how to determine that the boat meets the applicable safety standards. A PE does not need to be involved. See the websites above for more information on the safety regulations.

    Anyone building or importing new boats for sale needs to obtain an MIC code from the USCG, and affix a HIN to each boat.
     
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  5. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    Location: Port Orchard, Washington, USA

    jehardiman Senior Member

    Ok, here is a quick summation:
    Anybody can build a boat for their own use in the US; however...
    the US CFR/USCG has requirement all vessels have to meet,
    the specific state may have requirements both you (the operator) and the vessel have to meet, and
    the US CFR/USCG and possibly the state, will have requirements both you (you the operator and/or you the businessman ) and the vessel have to meet in order to offer the vessel for hire.
    Anybody can build a boat for commercial sale in the US; however...
    the US CFR/USCG has specific design requirement, fabrication requirements and inspections, and specific operational tests and inspections the vessels have to meet, and
    the specific state may have requirements both you (the businessman) and the company have to meet.
    The legality of offering "engineering services" or calling yourself a "Naval Architect" in a business venture varies state to state. In Washington state, doing either without a WA state PE in Naval Architecture is illegal, as well as using an existing legitimate PE stamp from another field to stamp what the Board would consider a "Naval Architecture" technical document. See this article about the issue. Licensing of naval architects - Ocean Navigator https://www.oceannavigator.com/licensing-of-naval-architects/

    You said you took an exam, was it only the NCEES exam or was there a supplemental exam on your state laws with your application also? Generally, both are required.
     
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  6. DCockey
    Joined: Oct 2009
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    DCockey Senior Member

  7. sadornati
    Joined: Jul 2014
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    sadornati Junior Member

  8. sadornati
    Joined: Jul 2014
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    Location: NJ

    sadornati Junior Member

    Thanks for the responses. Yes I double checked and agree- the laws for NJ also state that a prof. engineer cannot claim the title as a prof. architect and vice versa.

    What’s tough to figure out is— there doesn’t seem to be any information in the NJ Board’s regulations regarding boat or vessel design. Also I did notice in NCEES where I registered for the Civil exam I do not have the option to sign up for the Naval Architecture/marine engineering exam “it is not offered this administration.” I’m wondering if NJ does not have the exam discipline.
     
  9. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Once you get your PE, I would talk to your Board about their requirements. Your local SNAME chapter would also be a good source.
     
  10. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    My understanding, perhaps out of date, is only a few states use the NA/ME PE test.
     

  11. jehardiman
    Joined: Aug 2004
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    True, and NJ seems to only recognize the terms "professional engineer" and "professional land surveyor"; but NJ Statute 45:8-27. License required; display of license; exceptions; corporations, firms, partnerships and associations states...
    and in 45:8-28. Definitions...
    ...so there seems to be some wiggle room. It appears that in NJ a person could offer "Naval Architecture Yacht Design", but couldn't do any "engineering" calculations that effect "safeguarding life, health or property". If Naval Architecture does not effect the safety of men and property at sea (which is exactly Chapelle's definition) I don't know what is. I would suggest getting clarification.
     
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