YDS Students or Grads Speak Up!

Discussion in 'Education' started by BGWard, Mar 7, 2007.

  1. Paradyne
    Joined: Dec 2006
    Posts: 1
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Canada

    Paradyne "knowledge is not wisdom"

    Neutral Opinion

    Hello all!

    I have been looking for an online school for over a year now, and I have been reading these posts for awhile now, and I`d just like to make a couple points about YDS and Westlawn.

    First just so you know, I`m not affiliated with either school but I am looking to attend (online) one or the other(mostly because they are my only options)Anyway, from reading these posts, I would say three things:

    1. If I was Mr. Macnaugton I would most likely react in the same manner. This is after all his ENTIRE life. He a yacht designer, architect, and school administrator/instructor. That means when someone says something negative about the school, or as the case may be what they percieve to be the school, it obviously ticks him off. He is afterall not an institution but a person. He is also doing his best to create what is in his mind the best learning program he can with the resources he has.

    Now I`m not trying to suck up or take favourites here, just pointing some things out. I am very concerned that no one has specifically even graduated from the YDS program, however, this is not my main worry. The lack of cemented in lessons in the curriculum is very disconcerning. I do like that Mr. Macnaughton has actually answered this problem in the forum. Though the people are like he says reading into the situation, I can understand and agree with his statements. I personally have been trying to write a few lessons on a couple different topics and I can say with confidence that revisions are endless.

    2. Westlawn seems, in my opinion, to be quietly taking the high road about negativity. However, it is quite obvious that while the instructors may not hold specific grudges against other institutions, it is obvious by the posts from their students, that an air of supioriority is ingrained in the culture, and I`m not convinced it`s earned. Given there are so few choices for distance learning, I would say that being around for decades is not sufficient reason to acquire my tuition. I get the feeling that this school has the old writers attitude that if it`s not written on a typewriter or with a pen than it`s not true literature. Very boorish and completely useless in the current state of both the industry and the world in general. After-all your employer is not concerned how you get the job done, they just want it done and done right, and on time. They don`t care if you have to kill someone to do it either, so having the ability to draw nice lines on pretty paper is good for the ego but quite frankly not for the pocketbook.

    Neither school seems to me to have seriously provided real proof that people that graduate have recieved specific jobs in specific fields they studied in without having previous education in other fields or pre-existing knowledge of design to help them in attaining said positions.

    Having said that, I would say that YDS is most likely to be training me in my best interests as apposed to the bottom line of Westlawn. Any institution that believes their reputation is more important than giving me specifically what I have both asked and paid for, which is a complete education in yacht design, is aking to be disqualified.

    3. Lastly, I have attended private schools before and have found them to be lacking in student oriented programs. Mostly this is because they are just corporations trying to make a buck. They tend to stick with what they know and force to you buy books that their professors have written soley because they do not pay them enough not to supliment their income by forced purchases. They tend to give the breifest of depth in a smattering of areas, just enough to get you a job where you will spend untold hours catching up to where your degree should have placed you in the first place. Having said that, I find Mr. Macnaughton to be more inviting in his communications. For a start, he actually responds to my emails.(maybe not immediately, but they are replied to) I find institutions don`t reply unless they have some kind of monetary motivation, or you have been forced to result to insulting them to get a response defending their apathy.

    I have been designing in various fields for over 20 years and I can say that like other posts here, design is not about the degree or the status of the school you studied under, it`s instead about the individual and his/her effort to learn, grow, accept new ideas, and draw upon that knowledge to create something incredible.

    Given the unbelievable lack of online programs on this subject, I believe I will try YDS. We will see what happens, but I believe there is more value in these lessons than in strictly generic engineering principles and whispers of specific knowledge in yacht design. It would be nice to find a school with the respect for what the student wants like YDS seems to have, but with the stability and respectability of Westlawn. My case is not like others, unlike most students in private schools, I am not looking to learn enough to get a job in a firm, I am strictly looking for the knowledge itself.:)
  2. Proteus
    Joined: Mar 2007
    Posts: 26
    Likes: 1, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 23
    Location: Newport, RI

    Proteus Junior Member

    I'd suggest anyone interested in yacht design purchese some of the books in and out of print on the subject and give it a try before making such a huge financial commitment. Skeenes 8th edition, Chappelles Yacht Design and Planning, for example. If your planning on YDS there required texts anyway.

    Myself, I'm more interested in becoming proficient in designing and drawing the lines of full keel wooden boats the old fashion way before I spend a bunch of money for some one to critique my work.
  3. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    what was that (I mean the whole drivel.....)?

    Is your Barber on Holiday?
  4. Pierre R
    Joined: May 2007
    Posts: 461
    Likes: 32, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 458
    Location: ohio, USA

    Pierre R Senior Member

    I am another potential student sitting here on the fence and I have taken the road at present that you have taken. The second reason for the play now approach is that I am at present paying $23k per year for my daughters education. My daughter will be finished in less than a year. My wife just finished and MBA at Case Western and makes dang good money. Then its gonna be my turn again.

    I am looking at the yacht design career as a second career for retirement. I am very passionate about design so the process will not seem as much like a job. I presently have a degree in engineering from Michigan Technological University. I have been highly sucessful as an engineer. I have commerically viable patents in the metal casting industry and my own business persuing those patents. I intend to sell that technology and play around with boats.

    I have half ars designed boat and built boats since I was a young kid. My first boat about 10 years old. I well understand the sea but even so I still get surprises. There are very few systems on boats that I cannot fully service and design a good working layouts for installation. There is no job on small boats that I would not tackle including setup for manufacturing boats and manufacturing machines and jigs.

    I am a different kind of engineer than most. Most engineers are very analytical and set in their ways. I am far less analytical and much more artistically creative and intuitive in my approach to all engineering problems. To me, equations and math are not set in stone but tools that talk to me in the form of ideas, pictures in my mind and dynamic concepts rather than absolutes and paths to perfection. To me yacht design is the perfect trade because of how I deal with engineering design already. I can look at a set of line drawings and completely picture the boat and how it will react in a dynamic setting such as a sea state. I can tell you intuitively whether I like the design or not and what the design is best suited for. The equations generated from a design tell me what the effects would be of changing design parameters on the lines and the effects dynamically at sea.

    I can also tell you what size hull you need for what you want to fit into that hull and take a damn good guess at the cost to build her.

    I have 90% of the books that I would need for any course and many of the drafting tools. What I lack is real computer savey and the ability to draw quickly and accurately. I suppose that comes with time and I am at present taking my hand at free hand sketching to get a good handle on that.

    At present I do not know which school will be best for my situation. One of the things that I have noticed is that YDS does not recommend nor list any of David Gerrs books which I find very thorough.

    I am more of a social team player and not so much of a loner. I like people interaction and team approaches so I would likely team up with other designers with similar interests. I would like to design and build my retirement boat in the process. I am in a position that many are not in that I can probably build a few of my designs to get them out there.

    My present boat. She is 26' LOA, beam 9' draft 2'10" and 9000 lb displacement. She is powered by an 18 hp Sabb H2 with 480 mm controllable pitch propeller. She is also equiped with a very effective pravane stabilizer system. http://s706.photobucket.com/home/PierreR/index
    1 person likes this.
  5. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Nice boat Pierre!
  6. dgerr
    Joined: Jul 2004
    Posts: 120
    Likes: 19, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 221
    Location: New York

    dgerr Senior Member

    In the 80 years since it’s founding, Westlawn Institute has trained more practicing boat designers than any other school in the world. You can see a list of successful Westlawn alumni and more at:

    and you can see a gallery of alumni designed boats at:

    One of the best ways to get to know about Westlawn is to read Westlawn’s free quarterly newsletter, The Masthead. In addition to technical articles and design information, it will give you a great understanding of the school, what our students are doing, and what our many graduates have accomplished and are still actively engaged in.

    All issues of The Masthead are available online for free at:


    Successful graduates have had backgrounds of all types—from individuals who started right out of high-school with no other training or experience (see the September 2008 issue of The Masthead, page 6); to individuals with prior marine engineering degrees who then took Westlawn to master the specific field of boat design (see the April 2007 issue of The Masthead, page 10); and every imaginable education and training background in between.

    If you are serious about learning boat design, 80 years of proven graduates demonstrate that Westlawn Institute is one of the best educational paths. If the 4-year, 4-module Yacht & Boat Design Program is too much of a commitment, then try the much shorter, 1-year, 1-module Elements of Technical Boat Design Course.

    Elements will give you a solid grounding in the basics at a quarter of the cost and less than a quarter of the time as the full program, and—if you like—you can transfer into the full Yacht & Boat Design Program on completion of Elements, with no extra cost, no added time, and no repetition of study or course material.

    Dave Gerr, Director
    Westlawn Institute
    1 person likes this.
  7. Pierre R
    Joined: May 2007
    Posts: 461
    Likes: 32, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 458
    Location: ohio, USA

    Pierre R Senior Member

    David, thank you for your response. Yes I am serious but it all reality I am probably too old to make a name for myself build a decent buisness. None the less I want to build a retirement boat and would not mine any work I could get along those lines while I am traveling and living aboard. I am currently 54 with a very compilmentary background.

    I currently have your books and like the way that you present things.
  8. dgerr
    Joined: Jul 2004
    Posts: 120
    Likes: 19, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 221
    Location: New York

    dgerr Senior Member


    Glad you've enjoyed my books. It's not too late at 54. Westlawn has many students between 40 and 60. Some are studying for a hobby, but others make a successful second career. Either way, the Elements of Technical Boat Design short course could fill the bill.

    Dave Gerr, Director
    Westlawn Institute
  9. TollyWally
    Joined: Mar 2005
    Posts: 774
    Likes: 26, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 423
    Location: Fox Island

    TollyWally Senior Member

    I have access to an old Westlawn course from the 60's that a friend of mine inherited from his father who was a naval architect for a local shipbuilding firm. I'm trying to get it for my library.

    I have learned alot from your books. I wish your presence was felt more often here on the forums but I understand why it is not. You'd be nibbled to death and it could suck up large amounts of your spare time. Please continue your publication efforts.
    1 person likes this.
  10. welder/fitter
    Joined: Jun 2008
    Posts: 407
    Likes: 32, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 423
    Location: Vancouver

    welder/fitter Senior Member

    It says here that, as a student of YDS, I'm supposed to speak up.

  11. 8knots
    Joined: Feb 2002
    Posts: 266
    Likes: 12, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 352
    Location: Wasilla Alaska

    8knots A little on the slow side

    the choice........

    I have been following this for years...........
    Here is my opinion and thoughts on the issue.
    I like the feeling of the YDS course as it seems to follow a more traditional theme. I have a natural soft-spot for the blue collar working vessel. even if she is fitted for today's cruising couple. I enjoy working in that mode of design and strive the blend modern advances of practicality in a classic package.
    I feel YDS would satisfy that portion of "me" as a person.....

    Now....The real world, my lifelong dream to design/build a line of retro style boats as well as others.
    1) I love Dave Gerr's work and approach to design! After years of reading Sucher and Chappele i find his many books most usefull, adding them to my library broadened my understanding of things greatly.
    2) I have to believe that as director of Westlawn the course of the school will at least be in part dictated by him.
    3) I believe if you intend to do more than design your own boat by taking a course, the partnerships Westlawn is forging will help you greatly as a professional entering the field. ABYC and Rhino as well as many others.
    4) Cost i believe is relative to your intended path and what you want from the knowledge you will gain.

    Please note: this is not a flag toting expedition for Dave or Westlawn
    I have not enrolled in either BUT......I believe the latter will be my choice
    to get me where i would like to take myself in the very near future.

    That's my two cents........
    pencils sharp and splines fair!

    2 people like this.
  12. Willallison
    Joined: Oct 2001
    Posts: 3,590
    Likes: 130, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 2369
    Location: Australia

    Willallison Senior Member

    8!!... how wonderful to see your return!!:D :D
    If Westlawn and YDS are your two options, then I think really you have only one real choice if you want to enter the professional sphere....
    Of course as a Grad of the former, I guess I am biassed....
    Send me PM if you have any questions....

    Great to have you back!
  13. lewisboats
    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 2,329
    Likes: 129, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1603
    Location: Iowa

    lewisboats Obsessed Member

    I enrolled in YDS and received the first lesson but my lord the stuff you have to buy to do the work! Mylar sheets, all those ducks, the drawing stabilizing spray, the .3 mm pencil, the ships curves, triangles etc...not to mention the books. Well...lets forget I mentioned the books cause I bought them and more ;). Then you have to have the time to practice at drawing...any drawing...before being able to submit something worthwhile.

    I also tried the CAD course but you have to have a relatively solid base in Rhino before you even start...so you have to get the program, then learn it, then you can start with the YDS CAD program. Sheesh! I gave up in disgust and simply started buying books and devouring them trying to pound the basics into my head...still working at it but I believe I have made some progress...and actually enjoyed and am still enjoying the process. I think mainly I don't have the time to devote to doing the courses the way they would like. I am not interested in drawing by hand...I was never any good at it and I doubt I can change now. I am not looking to find employment in the field or start my own business...I just enjoy doing it for myself and anyone who expresses an interest.
  14. 8knots
    Joined: Feb 2002
    Posts: 266
    Likes: 12, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 352
    Location: Wasilla Alaska

    8knots A little on the slow side


    Nice to see and hear from you as well.
    Congrats on your writeup and launching! She is a sweetie. I have been working on a 42' retro coastal cruiser! Really upset with myself for not finishing her and entering that contest (Westlawn-Passagemaker).........it was written out for me!
    time and work you know the deal!

    I will PM you a copy of the prelim sketches when time allows.


  15. Willallison
    Joined: Oct 2001
    Posts: 3,590
    Likes: 130, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 2369
    Location: Australia

    Willallison Senior Member

    Do that, I'd love to see them
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.