Qualifications for a small craft design business?

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

  1. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    The intent is clear to me, but attorneys seem to specialize in declarifying. I think it could have been better written, and doesn't make much sense anyway. Why 200 feet? A more logical cutoff would be 24 meters, (load line requirements kick in here), but that doesn't make any sense either in terms of what is difficult to engineer and represents a danger to the public. My main issue is that it certainly doesn't do anything to make commercial fishing any safer, and I would hate to see a completely untrained person do 46 CFR 28.500 analyses, for example, or an OPA 90 study on an oil barge.

    The arguments made in the legislature at the time also included issues of "engineering" as a part of physical work, which further muddies the waters. However, yacht design has always been exempt (even in Washington state) on an argument that it is not engineering in the intent of public protection. To (sort of ) quote a person on one of the state boards; "I don't care if you perform CFD studies or sacrifice a goat to the gods of fluid dynamics, if it isn't an analysis using specialized knowledge required by law for public safety, it isn't engineering in the intent of the laws." Yachts only require simple tests to meet the requirements of the law, essentially similar to the building code for small structures (which don't require an architect).

    The Maine rule only addresses practice regulation as well, not title regulation, so using the "E-word" in advertising, etc. is still not allowed without licensure. If "naval architecture" is not a title in the Maine statutes, then it is allowed, however.

    So, anyone can offer to design boats and even ships (in other than Washington and Oregon, and then only as part of certain regulated criteria) without any qualifications as long as they don't offer services called "engineering" or use titles that imply offering engineering services. However, they should also be independently wealthy.
     
  2. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Well said.
     
  3. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    How do you retire with a small fortune as a yacht designer? Start with a large one.
     
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  4. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    This goes to the optimum education for a future small craft designer:

    * Go to the Coast Guard Academy, thereby ensuring future employment and not getting any student loans, and major in Naval Architecture.
    * Get an MS at Michigan in Naval Architecture when you make LT (the CG pays for this).
    * Retire as a Captain after 30 years having married a physician or attorney, once your kids finish college.
    * Then you can afford to open your own yacht design firm.
     
  5. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    In spite of all the facetious answers, many people make a good living as Naval Architects and yacht designers. Like any other business, you will have to market your products and services. If you are using software to design, that will be the largest investment next to a decent computer and 3 or 4 screens.
     
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  6. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    I know I made a decent living as a NA (GS-5 to GS-13), but given the amount of NA's who had worked as yacht designers who passed through our office in my 34 years, I would say that a successful yacht designer is more than software and a good computer rig. As I pointed out in the In 10 Year Computer thread, the mother of all programs has not appeared in the last 20 and is unlikely to appear in the next 20 years. I think "yacht design" is more about networking; who you know, who you work for/with, exposure, and if a racing yacht...who sails your boats.
    The real problem for being a one-man shop or small business is that the educational path is not straightforward. A successful one-off vessel, or a production yard, needs to be supported by the triad of design (the look and usefulness), engineering (the physics and materials), and construction (the physical construction and economics). These three factors have both synergistic and antagonistic relationships with one another. It is rare to find someone able to do or teach all three well, or even adequately, without having occupied and learned each of the positions. And the educational path into each position is very different; I know I can/did do the first two, but have nowhere enough time in the trades to do the last. That's what makes a small tight group able to work; I had a composite designer, a ex-shop weldor, a progressman, etc. to do the things I couldn't do well that are needed for small <shrug> cutting edge projects.
     
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  7. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    I suspect your background is more of the Govt./Military sector?

    Your 3 metrics, I can tick all three, coming from the commercial sector.
    I spent the best part of my first 10 years on the shop-floor learning the hows and whys of production.... donning a very heavy leather jacket and cumbersome mask to learn MIG welding and adding in the thick gloves that renders any manual dexterity to the of an elephant, is a great instructor! If one doesn't know how one's design is built, how can one design "it" with confidence it can be built...!!!

    But to Gonzo's point, it is a valid one.
    Since earning a living does not automatically = being knowledgeable in several fields of engineering.
    It is just means you are good at extracting funds from clients for doing a job - however it is done, or otherwise.
    Delving deeper into that just leads to the usual 'experience' and 'quality/knowledge' aspect...which then becomes more subjective.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2022
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  8. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    This is where "it all depends" and " no straight path" comes in. My experience has been the exact opposite, in my years I never found the commercial workers that well rounded; managers manage, engineers engineer, and trades deal with their union rules. Several times I have to had to intervene to prevent major engineering fabrication problems, all in private, public, and contractor yards.
    I took college night courses in High School and had my certificates in welding and machining before I graduated, as well as a lot of MOPAR experience having rebuilt all 3 of the vehicles I drove to high school/JC/Webb/UofM. At Webb (where I was an oddity as I wanted to be a Marine Engineer rather than a yacht designer) gave me my USMM "Seaman/Wiper" Card (no jokes..too many bar fights) and spent a couple of months as a NDT weld inspector in a shipyard. Broke my leg on the 3rd terrace at Webb and spent 2 years in leg cast while taking JC courses in COBAL and tech. At UofM on my way to finishing my NA&ME degree I got to play with IBM 360 mainframe card systems, Apple LISA, and the first IBM PC systems. Yes I hired into NNSY out of college and my first assignment was to write a FORTRAN check program for submarine un/drydocking block loads. Because of my welding and NDT experience I was transferred to submarine structures where I ran herd on first SSN 688 ShipAlts on the east coast (689 and 691) and learned all the welding specs. Heard about a "special project" at MINSY and got a SecNav transfer to Ocean Engineering, a US Navy DSSP RTD&E office where, except for the BRAC transfer to PSNY in 1994, I spent the next 32 years. I really got by dream job early.
    In that office I can recall NAs who passed through that worked for Wylie, Blount, G&C, Morris Guralnick, and about 3(?) others with private shingles. So at any one time 3-4 out of a nine man branch was transient NAs.
    So the real thing I've never done is detailed costing and MH for construction. What is the real cost of a welder, weldor, power, rod and services of a 3/8 fillet with 6111 per MH? How many feet can he do? I can tell you what is was for design and drafting and how many MH per page!
     
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  9. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    The military market is very different from the yacht market. Yachts are sold for style more than function. The new fashionable reverse bows are a good example. Prospective owners demand them, whether they make sense or not. In that market, NA are like artists; if they are famous people want their designs. Again, whether it makes sense or not. I am not saying all famous designers only sell fashion, but that the buyers based their decisions on fame and fashion. For someone starting a business, the key to success is on how to market their services.
     
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  10. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    I agree whole heartedly. But you will not understand how responsive governments are too "the latest thing". The whole world yacht market is, what 1-2 Billion USD? The LCS buy right now is about 12 Billion USD, and they still haven't delivered any real capability. Anyone still in the private yacht market is, right now, getting less than 1/6 of what they could. You, any NA, like Parsons and TURBINIA, can sell the IDEA of more for MORE!....I'm retired, and unless anyone drags me back into it, I'm DONE....I don't want compromised design, and what dirty meetings come with that. I want to do my best! And I find that so small in what we have here! Why am I being dragged back to mediocre! Every one this forum needs to excel! This is what burns up a NA's soul.
     
  11. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Relax dude. Who is dragging you back to mediocre?
     
  12. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    Who did you know from MGA ? - I was there a long time ago (working with my father for a while). I understand that Dave Mancebo was up in PSNY after leaving MGA - worked with him for a while and sailed a couple of races with him on "Critical Mass".

    I have also made a decent living in naval architecture; commercial, offshore oil, equipment, small shipyards and the government. Recently, the NA degree was one of the higher paid bachelor's degrees you could get, though I suspect that involved moving to Houston.

    As to a comparison on the size of markets, at one point I saw that the whole U.S. sailing market (new boats & boat equipment) was the same size as "SpongeBob SquarePants" movies and toys, and the whole recreational boating market (new powerboats and their gear) was about equal to "Winnie the Pooh". I am not sure what that means, but...

    However, I am doing a paper for the Chesapeake Sailing Yacht Symposium that I hope will add a few small opportunities for yacht design (CSYS is on my "bucket list"). It will be in Annapolis in June this year.
     

  13. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    It was Dave. If CRITICAL MASS wasn't mostly complete before the IOR change, nobody would have heard of SUMMERTIME DREAM. That what I mean it's kind of random. BLOOM COUNTY is still going strong though last time I heard.
     
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