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Ship's officer turning to Engineering!

  1. Jul 22, 2014 #1
    Hello everybody,

    I've been lurking around this site for a while & finally decided to join. I would appreciate any input I can get!

    1. I'm an international student in New Zealand and am about to gain a 2nd mates licence for working on board ships internationally. While I have worked for a limited time in this industry, I know it's not for me and I am looking to get more into mechanical engineering (applications in aerospace, sustainable energy & transport)

    2. After having looked into all the exciting things that engineering connects to (SpaceX, IEEE challenges, emerging technologies, etc) I find myself pushing for a career change and contemplating how I would go about doing it because it involves re-education and financial commitment. I always had a passion for travel, physics, math & had achieved good results in my AP's, but thought engineering would be boring for some reason (I'm actually looking for something more challenging and meaningful now!!).

    3. In an older thread someone mentioned "where you want to live" plays an important part in these choices. I also would like to work or stay in New Zealand, or to put it broadly, a country where opportunities/needs are present & the potential for career development exists.

    So, how do I make this transition or jump while
    1. drawing upon previous knowledge, skills (any bridges?)
    2. being smart about financials? Biggie, as my parents and I invested a lot of money and energy already. I just had to finish what I'd started.
    3. working? I would prefer to work & study part time or something. It's just hard finding related work as a foreigner here even if your occupation is on the "Skills in demand list"

    Any resources I should know about? Am I looking at this the right way? Any help's much appreciated! (PS. I'm 21, if that helps)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2014 #2


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    Welcome to PF, orion_microbe!

    So the sea life is not for you. Well that's understandable, it's an odd lifestyle.

    I'm afraid I can't speak directly to education in New Zealand - I'm in the US. But one of my brothers went to the Maritime Academy in Vallejo, California. I'll tell you what I know about the school he attended, just to give you a data point.

    The Maritime Academy offered three paths when he went there: working on the deck, working in the engine room, or a degree that combined the engine room education with a traditional Mechanical Engineering degree.

    A school like this would offer you a "bridge" from where you are, to where you want to be. Your experience would be helpful to get into a school like this (and maybe even help getting financial aid). Then, once you graduate with an ME degree, you could go anywhere with it. You wouldn't have to stay in the shipping industry because ME is extremely flexible degree!

    Do you have an equivalent of a school like this in NZ or maybe Australia?


  4. Jul 23, 2014 #3
    Hi Lisab,

    Thanks for the information! It is odd, and I can still remember the 5 minute naps I would steal when I had a chance, and the feeling of an "informational" thawing after being away for 6 months! It was plenty fun at times, but I like the interaction, technology and freedom on land (a landlubber!). Interesting stuff in the States! I am actually even considering the US, but I will have to secure financing first. While bridging over sounds good, I would prefer exposure to the latest technologies and a more traditional approach. Can you comment on the mechanical engineering program at Cal Maritime? On their international student page, they said they do not accept transfer credits, so 4 yrs study is required. Australia does have a similar program, but it really borders on offshore engineering, which is not what I'm looking for. At this point, I'm looking to apply to some traditional mech. eng. bachelors because of their breadth on the subject.
  5. Jul 23, 2014 #4


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    My advice would be the same as I would give to anyone starting down the non-traditional path. (By non-traditional, I mean someone who starts a university education later in life.) First, start with a good assessment of where you are with math. If you haven't had any math since high school, you will need to review a bit. How is your algebra and trig? I don't mean how it was when you took it - how is it now? Can you take a class at a local college or online? This is an important step! You may not want to re-take math classes you took in high school, but if you can't *easily* breeze through the material, you have to take the class.

    Passion and ambition will get you far, but they don't substitute for a solid math education.
  6. Jul 24, 2014 #5
    As someone else who is going through a "non-traditional" education I can confirm Lisab's comment. I took math in my first degree but it had been about 10 years, I can tell ya I got my *** handed to me in the first few quizzes in calc 1. I really had to work hard to catch up and recall all the math that most of the students had done just the previous year.

    If you can spend some time reviewing before your classes start and you'll be fine :)
  7. Jul 24, 2014 #6
    That is good advice! Actually, before deciding to pursue this track, I did acknowledge the fact that I may need to brush up on advanced algebra and calc, trig is good (looked through an advanced engineering math book at the library to give myself a cold splash too!). My studies in the maritimes did include trig and algebra. I think it's all pretty ironic that I didn't want to get into engineering at first despite doing all the required exams for uni and advanced classes, because I didn't find it interesting at the time, and now, I feel as if I see it all around me and it's exciting. I think I could get to speed on the math and physics in a little while. Thanks Lisab and cpscdave!
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