Westlawn's future

Discussion in 'Education' started by DCockey, Nov 13, 2014.

  1. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    The idea that some how a university education disqualifies one from practical knowledge or design skill is something that is said a lot, but in my experience, I haven't seen it much. There is a tendency for highly qualified engineers to do a lot of analysis vs. design, but that is because they have the capability to do complicated analyses, and they can also do the designs if needed.

    I have worked with a lot of highly qualified engineers, not only naval architects, but engineers in many other disciplines, and have generally found that they have as good practical knowledge as anyone else, often better because a deep understanding of the physics illuminates practical experience and allows extending it into innovative designs. Good fundamental understanding of the physics and math also allows using "analogies" from one area to be used in another.

    One of my favorites here, though it was analysis rather than design, was a key part of a very complex design problem: It was necessary to determine the forces on an object emerging rapidly from a manuevering underwater object. A professor at UCB realized that the analogy between electrical potential and hydrodynamic potential allowed the complex geometry to be modeled by objects submerged in a weak electrolyte. Then by measuring the voltage potential between various points on the geometry, the potential flow coeffiecient could be determined and the forces calculated.

    In a design case, we needed to develop a hydrofoil for an unusual application. Fortunately, we was aware of enough air foil theory to know that a "barn roof" lift distribution was what was needed to get past stall and avoid cavitation, so we selected a GAW-1 section, and the craft worked. In the same project, understanding the physics of manuevering allowed development of a pitch-stable configuration. None of this would have been possible without the theory and enough math to analyze it and build a computer model.
     
  2. Alik
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    Alik Senior Member

    Professor is regulated title; usually requires at least University degree in the field, in most cases - Ph.D. In most of countries it is regulated by law, in others just regulated as matter ethics in research community. One calling himself a 'professor' without having even a bachelor in the field and without a single scientific publication is just devaluating and disrespecting his colleagues, who worked hard in legal way to get the titles and qualifications. There but should be some limit to this absurd, profanation and exaGERRation!

    Tomorrow they will start calling themselves admirals - why not?
     
  3. Alik
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    Alik Senior Member

    I would not listen to such sayers. They say that just because they have no degree and want a kind of justification. We saw a lot of such on this forum - they honestly believe that they 'think out of the box', and engineers with degree are only worth run errands for their genius ideas. Leave them alone with their self-rating.

    Not true as the experience shows. Absence of university education is not a value, it is a disadvantage and limitation. Talent plus proper education matters.

    Level of responsibility of fully qualified engineer is not comparable with yacht designer from correspondence school, even if the latter was told the school has 50,000 alumni :p
     
  4. Qvox
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    Qvox Junior Member

    Why do so many people seemed threatened?

    The simple fact is a lot of autodidacts have made tremendous contributions to the world. Is it because of the competition? The fact that there are indeed a lot of very successful yacht designers who don't have traditional education credentials?

    There are very successful Westlawn yacht designers. That's just a fact.

    The world has too many gatekeepers.
     
  5. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    That's correct. There are also a lot of successful completely self trained designers. There are also university educated designers, some of whom also did all or part of the Westlawn course.

    Westlawn is especially useful for people already in the rec boat industry who can't fit in a university education.

    It is not the first choice for some one who can attend a university, even if not specifically in naval architecture mainly because most NAME jobs are in other than rec boats and possibly because of a growing trend toward seeking real engineering degrees even by employers in the rec boat industry.

    However, my point of view is partly colored by the fact that I wasn't really interested in rec boat design and went into NAME because my father was a merchant marine officer and I lived in a shipyard town, and was mostly interested in commercial, military and oil patch stuff. (And we later worked in the same ship design firm for a while before I switched to off shore oil.)

    I think that the two issues people are concerned with is the use of titles and terms that have more conventional definitions and the fact that university programs have a certain level of vetting due to the fact that the textbooks are otherwise available, the instructors have a body of publications that are available and so on, but Westlawn doesn't have such a conventional method of vetting.
     
  6. alanrockwood
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    alanrockwood Senior Member

    How about if we go right to the bottom line and address the following question: "Does the Westlawn program do what it claims to do, assuming the student does what he/she is supposed to do?"
     
  7. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    The list of success stories out of WestLawn is quite long, many well noted too. In the end it depends on what you want from this type of program. It's not a matter of gatekeepers, but of credentialed candidates, for prospective positions. The appropriate "papers" will offer some assurances to those seeking new hires, while the self taught will be low on the list comparatively.
     
  8. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    One key issue is whether or not Westlawn continues to be relevant today.

    In the past, it was prohibitively expensive to even do basic hydrostats and there were only very simple structural standards so yacht design was mainly esthetic and rule of thumb. Now CFD and FEA are common, at least for high end projects and there are now complex stability and structural standards that require a substantial level of expertise. This tends to mitigate in favor of a real engineering degree.

    In addition, most jobs in naval architecture are in commercial and military, rather than in rec boats, and Westlawn is no help there. There are many fewer jobs in rec boats than in other areas.

    That said, Westlawn is probably very useful for a lot of positions in the rec boat industry such as survey, construction and so on.

    It is probably worth looking at Eric Sponberg's article on a career in yacht design.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2015
  9. Alik
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    Alik Senior Member

    Quite interesting, my staff was trying to contact Westlawn for short courses and there is no reply. Are they still active?

    PS I saw Yacht Design for Artists link there, but it does not open. Might be interesting and very demanded (I was giving similar course at Chula Uni in Thailand).
     
  10. u4ea32
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    u4ea32 Senior Member

    A year in, and Westlawn is doing great. We have increased enrollment by 100%, we are now very strong financially.

    Westlawn continues to attract top students. During 2015, our new students include those who have already earned bachelors and masters degrees from Webb, Michigan, Southampton, and ArtCenter. So Westlawn continues to be the place that people go when then realize they want to design boats and yachts, instead of breakwaters and oil platforms.

    The most important things we are doing are increasing the value we provide to students. We have increased the rate our students progress through the course. We have increased the software tools they have available, and both online and classroom training in those tools, including AutoCAD, Maxsurf, and Rhino+Orca3d.

    Westlawn provides our students with all the books they need too, including the latest editions by Blount, Larsson, and Fosetti.

    Westlawn now provides classroom courses at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where our top student last term earned an internship at Palmer Johnson in Monaco.

    Perhaps most exciting is the work we are doing in the multihull and hydrofoil domains with our collaboration with Morrelli & Melvin. Very exciting stuff. Pete is letting us provide to our students all M&M software for multihull and hydrofoil design. Putting courses around this software is a challenge, but we are doing it.

    So Westlawn continues to be the place to go if you want to learn to design yachts and boats, and be successful in your career.
     
  11. alanrockwood
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    alanrockwood Senior Member

    What is the current cost?
     
  12. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    You are going down a very slippery slope by make such generalised assumptions and comments on highly respected naval arch courses. These courses provide the fundamental theories to do any type of naval arch. from yachts to super tankers.

    The direction in which the student goes, is up to them....not the course per se.

    What you are providing, from you soliloquy above, is what any naval arch would learn on the job in the first 1 - 2 years as part of the industrial training. Such training is part of the continuing education and development of any naval arch graduate. And never stops..or should not, until retirement.
     
  13. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    John, David (u4ea32) is a WestLawn board member and I suspect part of the revamp process, the school has been going though in the last year.
     
  14. alanrockwood
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    alanrockwood Senior Member

    What does the change of control mean for tuition costs?
     

  15. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    Actually I am looking forward to retiring so that I will have more time to study and do research. (Big plans for building a Beowulf cluster for running SPhysics and OpenFoam.)
     
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