Thomas Darby, an engineer who works on a tugboat, is training in maritime engineering with San Jacinto College to upgrade his pay scale and position. Photo credit: Jeannie Peng-Armao, San Jacinto College marketing department
Maritime engineering courses added to help alleviate industry shortage
Jeannie Peng-Armao -- November 8, 2012
PASADENA, Texas – From entry-level to advanced positions, the maritime industry is in desperate need of workers as over half of the mariner population reaches retirement and ports face an influx of traffic from international developments such as the widening of the Panama Canal.
San Jacinto College has already introduced many U.S. Coast Guard-approved license and certification courses, identified as needed by surrounding companies, with the most recent being maritime engineering, a subject of maritime study offered only by a handful of institutions throughout the country. Workers of this caliber are very much needed, as noted by Ryan Brown, who often looks to hire maritime engineers.
"Engine room personnel are some of the hardest crew members to recruit due to a shortage in the maritime industry," said Brown, who works with AET Offshore Services, Inc. Overall, employment of water transportation occupations is projected to grow 20 percent by 2020, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Very few courses are offered throughout the United States for engine room personnel looking to upgrade, unless you attend a four-year university. Most of the studying and upgrading are done on a mariner's own time without assistance."
Maritime engineering is comprised of the below deck operations that must all function properly to keep a ship working and the environment healthy and safe for the crew. This includes maintaining and repairing electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, heating and air conditioning, and electronic systems.
Brown said a U.S. Coast Guard DDE 4,000 license qualifies mariners to cover any of the positions on AET vessels, and pay scales significantly increase as one continues gaining higher certification. The pay scale difference for a mariner who advances from a QMED oiler to a chief engineer can mean as much as a $170 increase per day.
The Designated Duty Engineering (DDE) course through San Jacinto College is open to any mariner who wants to gain a license as a qualified member of engine department (QMED).
"These are very broad courses that are unique to the maritime industry, and therefore, very valuable to the most experienced seaman," said Capt. Carol Curtiss, who holds unlimited master and unlimited chief engineer licenses. Curtiss is working with the San Jacinto College maritime program as an instructor of the new engineering courses, which address such topics as motor propulsion, electricity, fire and safety, engineering fundamental, and miscellaneous piping systems. "I have students here who are sailing as chief engineers with no rating required, yet they want to learn the academics of maritime engineering because a greater concentration of the U.S. Coast Guard exam questions focus on what is covered in the certification courses."
About San Jacinto College maritime
San Jacinto College already offers a variety of maritime programs and courses that are designed to usher new workers into the industry. Options available include an Associate of Applied Science in Maritime Technology for those interested in working on a vessel in an operations capacity, an associate of applied science degree for logistics and supply chain management, and an Introduction to Ships and Shipping course for students to earn their associate degree in business administration and take advantage of an articulation agreement with Texas A&M University at Galveston to pursue a maritime administration degree.
For current mariner U.S. Coast Guard licensing and certification, companies send their maritime crews to the College’s maritime training center for training. The center is guided and supported by an advisory committee of industry leaders.
In the coming years, a San Jacinto College maritime facility will be built on 13 acres at the Port of Houston to house multiple classrooms, engineering labs, RADAR, Automatic Radar Positioning Aid, Electronic Chart Display and Information System, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, and advanced navigation labs together with the industry's newest interactive, full mission ship, towboat, and tugboat simulators.
For more information about the San Jacinto College maritime program, visit cpd.sanjac.edu/maritime or www.sanjac.edu/areas-study.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.