What are the limits of a Yacht Designer?

Discussion in 'Education' started by FirthofForth, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    I do know and appreciate it all, no remarks or intend to "despise" other degrees, where have I done that?

    the question was regard to yacht designer (a rather narrow part of marine design) vs. NA or other degree. Even well known yacht designers here in the United States often have to have other careers during times when demand for pleasure yachts is low. If that is the reality in the rest of the world, than better to have education in a broader area, that would be recognized in more industries, if you want to stay employed. only a very small number of yacht designers have managed to keep designing nothing but yachts year round their whole career.

    It has nothing to do with if I despise them or not (I do not at all), it is just the reality of the yacht market. It is not steady enough nor large enough to keep large number of designers employed all the time. In fact I admire those NA and yacht designers who have managed to make a full time career of perusing their passion and spend their life around pleasure yachts, most of us are not that fortunate.
     
  2. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    It's not right at all.
    I think the only thing that limits a person's career is the failure to accept challenges. It is true that a degree opens many doors but a person with any degree if he does not show what he's worth, can not make a career.
    In my country, and I guess in all, yacht design is a very small piece of the whole universe of a naval architect.
     
  3. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    yes, I agree that you are only limited by your own behavior. But there is a tendency for employers, particularly larger ones, to select out applicants that do not fit their idea of what they are looking for. in those cases it is up to you to convince those that make the hire decisions that you are capable of doing the work and you are the right person for that job. I think a more general education, even if you specialize in your work in yacht design, makes it easier to find work outside of your normal career if necessary.

    Again, there is nothing disparaging about it, it is just an observation.
     
  4. TANSL
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    TANSL Senior Member

    Yes, I quite agree, in general. However we can not ignore that there is, for years, a tendency to specialization. The encyclopedic man, like Michelangelo, it is difficult to get.
     
  5. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    That's like saying a degree in History limits your career..:confused::confused:

    All engineering based course, beit NA, ME, CE etc etc..all have many common core subjects.

    Kind of yes....If one works for a "company" such as BAE or BMT etc then only a C.Eng./MRINA is 'qualified' to authorise dwgs/design for issue.

    However, if the company has no C.Eng/MRINA staff member, such as a small 1 man band or small yacht design office, the company is not penalised, just under far more scrutiny or seek suitable qualified NA to check their work first. Several very good friends of mine are not C.Eng/MRINA and fall into this category...but they are generally at the mercy of Class/Flag as noted by Eric. I have provided such services to said companies to provide the "stamp" for them when things get messy.
     
  6. rxcomposite
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    rxcomposite Senior Member

    AH- Petros said "a degree in "navel architecture" limits your career options,...

    Specializing on a navel or umbilicus would surely limit your carrer options. Maybe branch out to designing navel jewelry. :D
     
  7. FirthofForth
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    FirthofForth Junior Member

    Hi Ad Hoc - Very interesting point you made about your friends who are not C.Eng/MRINA. Can you elaborate more on this process? In case one didn't have a good friend who was an N.A does one just go to the open consulting market? Are clients quite forgiving about this "outsourcing process"?

    Thanks Petros for your point about the flexibile and applicable nature of a general engineering specialty. Point taken.
     
  8. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    LOL

    When at the University of Michigan I was once asked my major by another student at a party..."Naval Architecture" I replied..."Is that in med school?" she asked....so from that time on I always replied "Navel Architect...we work hand in suit with the bikini designers".
     
  9. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    It's a bit convoluted.

    Basically these "designers" are not part of a shipyard, thus stand alone designers. They may do their own weights and centres they may do their own preliminary stability etc...or they may not (not all do - depends upon the type of "designer"). Most offer basic structure dwgs. These dwgs go to a yard of either the clients or designers choosing, they do not do production dwgs.

    As such the shipyard generally accepts the responsibility of the build, since no full set of Class dwgs are supplied nor detailed production dwgs; just interior and exterior styling and materiel schedules to satisfy the outfitting. Although a general structure layout is provided as a basis. Consequently these yards generally do their own "technical work". By that I mean they liaise with Class and have contracts with Class for approvals, they do their own detail work, or subcontract that out....and any issues with the surveyor they sort it out. In general the yards do not discuss these technical issues with the designer, unless there is a conflict between the "design" and the build...that's often how their contracts are written too.

    But in some cases, where either the yard/client wants to have more of a technical compliance somewhere in the process, such as a set of Class approved structure dwgs to satisfy the client in advance, that's where I (or others) can sometimes be called upon. Even though the dwgs are to Class, most designers do not have the knowledge base or capability to know in advance if said structure (or other detail) will satisfy Class. Some designers (but not that many) who do this regular do become very competent indeed; but limited in their knowledge base. Having a dwg returned with red ink and notes everywhere and major changes is too late as production is waiting. The designer can go through this process...just submitting to class (or a 3rd party) and accept what is returned, i.e. no C.Eng/MRINA req'ment. But as I noted from the outset, it is all about knowing ones limitations and knowing when to seek assistance...and knowing in advance if the concept is still "workable". This is more so on larger projects than small plastic tub boats ;)

    Most yacht designers i know (inc my best mate) are more concerned with form than function. How it is put together to satisfy the endless independent bodies is a much lesser importance. Satisfying their cleints "vision" is upper most in their minds...not if a tripping bracket is required, or if the piping is to be 5083 and not 6082 or simply requires vibration support etc. But from their point of view...they don't get involved in shipyard stuff like NA's do...and those that do...their exposure is still limited and dictated to them by the yards, not the other way around.

    Does that answer your question..??
     
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  10. FirthofForth
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    FirthofForth Junior Member

    Hi Ad Hoc it certainly does. This really helped to highlight the differences between the "Designer" versus "Architect".

    Your post, also got me on the path to investigating the use of the word "Architect" versus "Designer", particularly in the UK context. To get a proper handle on the legalese relating to the term "Architect" in the U.K, I contacted the statutory body in the U.K which governs the term "Architect". The Architects Registration Board (A.R.B). They confirmed that under the UK architects act 1997, which deals with architects on terra firma, the term "Architect" is actually proscribed, unless you possess the correct qualifications, parts 1, 2, and 3. A special exemption is made for "Naval Architects". They are recognised as a distinct and special case, as long as they are "corporate" RINA members or Fellows, whether qualified by degree or otherwise proven experience.

    Interestingly no legal restriction applies in the U.K to the use of the word "Architectural". No restrictions apply either to "Technician", "Technologist" or "Designer". So in the U.K it would be perfectly valid for someone not holding corporate RINA membership, to call themselves a "Naval Architectural Designer" but they could never use the term "Naval Architect", as they wouldn't meet the requirements for exemption from the UK architects act 1997. It would be interesting to know what the story was for other parts of the world.

    Also whilst "Architectural Technologist" is a distinct profession in the U.K, with a Chartered status, the term is not proscribed in the U.K.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
  11. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    I think we have a similar understanding here in the US regarding the use of the term "architect". I have never heard of a case where the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has complained of the term "naval architect." They understand that ours in an engineering profession whereas there's is primarily an artistic profession (admittedly with lots of technical detail, but they need civil and mechanical engineers to design the structures of their buildings.)

    The term "naval architectural designer" is a mouthful and confusing, and I also think it is wishful thinking. Don't try to stretch your qualifications or image into something that it is not, or to what is confusing. Here in the US, "boat designer" or "yacht designer" are perfectly common and acceptable terms. They also provide clear distinction from "naval architect" which is recognized as a degreed engineering profession. The terms "boat designer" and "yacht designer" are not degreed in general, and not born of an engineering curriculum.

    We also have the term "marine engineer" which comes from the same college departments as naval architects. They deal with all of the machinery bits inside a vessel ("You can't build them without pipes." as one of my professors used to say). This must carry a distinction or explanation with "marine engineers" who are actually civil engineers that deal with fixed structures in littoral areas. In our state of Florida, the Florida Board of Professional Engineers makes this distinction and limits its reach accordingly. (That is, "marine engineers" for floating vessels do not have to be licensed, but "marine engineers" of fixed structures in littoral areas do have to be licensed.)

    Finally, the public has a tendency to use the term "marine designer" which actually means very little, to my mind. It really doesn't mean anything, and I usually correct people to say either "naval architect" or "boat designer" or "yacht designer." I often use "yacht designer" when talking in general conversations because the term more clearly represents what I do and eliminates the need for me to explain what a "naval architect" is ("Oh, do you work for the Navy?" No, I design yachts.)

    Eric
     
  12. FirthofForth
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    FirthofForth Junior Member

    Hi Eric, thanks for this very helpful advice. You made a very salient point about not stretching qualifications or image into something that it is not and the importance of using acceptable and clear terminology.
     
  13. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Eric brings up a very good point about the different terms used, that vary by state, that contain both a descriptive part and a legal part. Unlike many countries (like the UK) professional licenseture in the US is controlled by the state. These specific state laws regulate how a person may describe the services they offer. So using WA state as an example, you could have a business "XYZ Electric" that sells electrical equipment, but "XYZ Electrical Engineering" must have a licensed electrical engineer in house, and "XYZ Electrical Contractors" must have a contractors license as well. In Washington, to call yourself an "engineer" or "contractor" or in some cases "designer" in print or advertising for a service, you must possess the requsite license (RCW Title 18 in general but 18.235.010 and 18.235.020 specificly for engineers and designers).

    Because the terms are not consistant across the states, and the federal government plays it's own game, there is a plurality of terms over here that often make it difficult to know who is what. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is trying to get all states to come together for consistancy and to ease comity (one state recognizing anothers states professional licensing) issues, but its been a hard row.

    It is also important that some states, and sometimes the federal government, make the distinction over here between "public use" and "private use". If anyone wants to build a boat and possibly kill themselves, that's OK. But to build a boat to offer for sale to a "public" customer as opposed to a "private" customer may invoke state and or federal laws. Professional licensure is to protect the public who may not have the skill to know what is good and what is bad.
     
  14. FirthofForth
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    FirthofForth Junior Member

    Thanks for this very valuable insight jehardiman.

    So the conclusion I'm rapidly drawing here from the totality of the contributions on the thread, is that the non N.A qualified designer can have a great time drawing up a multitude of vessels, but should really be validating and finalising each of their designs they intend to sell with a qualified Naval Architect before attempting to sell it, due to the minefield of regulatory, safety, and legal concerns.

    In fact, to take this instance to the next level of abstraction, doesn't the non-qualified designer then really just end up becoming another type of client for a Naval Architect?

    In such an arrangement then does the designer end up having an intellectual property clause which ensures that whatever modifications and contributions the Naval Architect makes are considered the property of the "designer" who is paying for the Architect's services?

    I suppose through doing a correspondence Yacht Design course, and being familiar with basic naval architecture, the designer can cut down on the amount of work required by the Architect and thus save time and by definition cost?
     

  15. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    This can happen to some degree. Again, it all goes back to your comfort level with the technical detail. The people at Westlawn and The Landing School are training you to design boats and small craft with the minimum amount of engineering so that you could conceivably make a living designing boats. One option for the non-N.A. qualified designer is to work in a design firm under the guidance and authority of the senior naval architect/owner. In that way, the designer gets to design boats, but does not have to be bothered with actually running the business and taking the legal responsibility for the design. That is probably the more common route for the designer. Again, as mentioned above, going into business for yourself is extremely hard, risky, and does not pay a going wage for many years, if at all.

    In addition, I wonder how many naval architects out there really would take on the work of a designer to "validate and finalize" his designs. Generally, it is not in our interests to do so--we have enough work to get through without having to help a competitor do his job. And, could you afford our fees--we would probably charge what we charge our clients, which is more than the designer would charge his clients, probably, unless he passed the higher fees onto the client. But then, why wouldn't the client just go to the naval architect in the first place, and get the benefit of all that much more expertise?

    Personally, I do not take on other designer's work for validation and finalization. I am not interested in that, plus, if I did, even despite a confidentiality agreement or a non-disclosure agreement, there is no guarantee that some salient feature from the designer would not subconsciously work its way into my designs. That exposes me to legal action. So the cure is--I just don't go there.

    So what you are really getting at, as suggested above, is once you get your certificate in boat design, that does qualify you for employment in a design office, and that is easier, better, and more lucrative financially than trying to make it as an independent designer on your own. I am not saying it cannot be done--some intrepid individuals have succeeded--but it's rare and its risky, and it gets harder and harder as time goes on.

    That's another 2¢.

    Eric
     
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