The article entitled, "Go to the Head of the Class" (MR/EN, Sept. 1999) presents a refreshing example of progress in maritime education. Professors Femenia and Butman of the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) are to be commended for developing a Shipyard and Marine Management Program that is responsive to the needs of the maritime industry, and one that exemplifies the synergy of education and industry working together. I commend NASSCO and Atlantic Marine for their participation as mentors, providing internship opportunities that successfully foster the goals of the program. Their investment in the program appears to be paying off.
A few years ago I was invited by Prof. Butman to participate in the program as an "industry consultant," making several presentations to the midshipmen on port engineering topics, and providing guidance to a group of students during the preparation of their Capstone project. At the conclusion, I was invited to attend the project presentations along with other industry professionals. The presentations were impressive and a sure sign that the program would be successful. From a professional standpoint, I found the entire experience to be both rewarding and enjoyable. The following summer I arranged for two midshipmen to intern with my port engineering staff during a major ship overhaul. Both midshipmen participated in the routine (and non-routine) tasks of the overhaul management function, and they did an outstanding job, learning first-hand the job of running a major overhaul from a shipowner's perspective.
I encourage shipyards, shipowners
/operators and maritime professionals alike to support this program, either as mentors or to facilitate relevant internship opportunities for the midshipmen. This program certainly provides a win-win situation for both the students and the industry.
Richard Thorsen, PE, ACTA Maritime